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L.A. Panel to Focus on Threat of AIDS in Black Population

July 22, 1987

In an attempt to alert Southern California's black community to the increasing threat of AIDS among blacks, state and city leaders Tuesday announced creation of the Black Los Angeles AIDS Coordinating Commission.

The commission will coordinate the efforts of Los Angeles' black elected officials, religious leaders, educators and health care professionals, Mayor Tom Bradley said at a City Hall news conference with Assemblywomen Maxine Waters and Teresa Hughes.

Bradley, Waters, Hughes and state Assembly Speaker Willie Brown will serve on the commission, along with other soon-to-be-appointed community leaders. "A lot of people in the black community unfortunately still think of AIDS as a white, gay problem. They couldn't be more wrong," Hughes said. "Nothing will be accomplished if we sit back and wait for government to do something."

Blacks account for about 25% of all reported acquired immune deficiency syndrome cases in the United States, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

"There's no doubt that we're playing catch-up," Waters said.

No specific commission programs were announced Tuesday, but Waters and Bradley said they intend to seek funding for better AIDS education in minority communities and to find facilities where AIDS victims can get treatment.

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