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UAlbany Hosts Conference on HIV Prevention in Black Community

Contact: Lisa James Goldsberry (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 21, 2004) -- Debra Fraser-Howze, president of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, will be the keynote speaker for the first annual Capitalize on Community conference at the University at Albany. The two-day conference will be held on Wednesday, September 29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Campus Center on the UAlbany uptown campus and on Thursday, September 30 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue.

Wednesday's program, which focuses on student education and awareness, is free and open to the public. The registration fee for Thursday includes a luncheon, and is $10 before September 17 and $15 after.

The conference, "Faith-based Institutions and Voluntary Organizations in HIV Prevention in the Black Community," will define and launch the Capitalize on Community Project- -a five-year research and community outreach endeavor designed to enhance the relationships between HIV/AIDS service providers, the faith-based community and persons at-risk and/or living with HIV/AIDS. The ultimate goal of the project is to improve HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in the Albany Capital District via collaboration, cooperation and coordination.

Fraser-Howze founded the New York City-based National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (BLCA) in 1987. Under her leadership BLCA has grown to become the oldest and largest black HIV and AIDS non-profit organization of its kind in America. Prior to her founding presidency at BLCA, she served as director of Teenage Services at the New York Urban League, specializing in teenage pregnancy. She holds a bachelor's degree in interpersonal communications from Hunter College and a master's in public administration from Baruch College.

The conference will bring together HIV/AIDS service providers, grassroots leaders, community organizations, the faith-based community, individuals living with HIV/AIDS, students, University faculty and other persons interested in addressing HIV/AIDS in the Albany Capital District.

The conference is organized by Hayward Horton, an associate professor of sociology at UAlbany, who founded the coalition. He is immediate past president of the Association of Black Sociologists, a former chair of the Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities (SREM) of the American Sociological Association, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Northeastern New York AIDS Council. He is also the director of the University at Albany's Critical Demography Project.

"About four years ago, my niece was diagnosed with AIDS. She had been HIV positive for a number of years but was in denial and not taking her medications. This was a wake-up call to me," Horton said. "I realized that I could no longer be simply a concerned citizen. I decided I have to get involved and use my time and talents to make the situation better for the black community."

Capitalize on Community represents a collaboration between the Department of Sociology, School of Public Health, and the School of Social Welfare at UAlbany. Community partners include the Whitney M. Young Health Center, Stratton VA Med Center, AIDS Council of Northeastern New York, Capital District African American Coalition on AIDS, St. John's Community Development Corporation, Centro Civico (New York State's leading Latino community development organization) and Clement & Associates (a black and female-owned healthcare consulting firm). Together, they are pulling together the community to improve HIV prevention in the black community in Albany and the Latino community of Amsterdam.

The group will hold community forums, conduct focus groups and face-to-face interviews to explore the divide between the faith-based community, healthcare providers and victims of HIV/AIDS, with the goal of providing leadership in the development of programs and policies to enhance efforts to prevent the spread of this disease.

BLCA's mission is to inform, coordinate and organize the volunteer efforts of indigenous Black leadership including clergy, elected officials, medical practitioners, businessmen and women, social policy experts, and the media to meet the challenge of fighting AIDS in their local communities.


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