Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Ministers, and First Ladies Discuss HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C

(Clockwise from top left) Dr. Edward Mena, Dr. Wilbert Jordan, Dr. Orlando H. Pile, Dr. Stephen A. Parnell, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

For the past year, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has enlisted pastors and first ladies from churches throughout the Second District to bring their knowledge, influence, and compassion to the fight against sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. Rates of infection in the Second District are among the highest in the nation, and the Supervisor maintains public health campaigns cannot succeed without the support and assistance of the ecumenical community.

On Wednesday, October 24, a roundtable of more than 40 doctors, physicians, ministers, and first ladies gathered to hear from health experts, ask questions and discuss the toll HIV and Hepatitis C are taking – especially among young African-American men and women. The dinner meeting was organized by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Oasis Clinic Medical Director, Dr. Wilbert Jordan — a trailblazer in the community with regard to education about and treatment of STDs.

“By addressing HIV/AIDS head on we can empower young people to take care of their physical, nutritional, and sexual health,” said the Supervisor. “It is my hope that everyone tonight gains a renewed desire to ask others to keep the conversation going and join the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.”

The data is alarming: of the state’s estimated 134,000 cases, approximately 59,000 are in Los Angeles County, and Blacks, who comprise 8.8 percent of the population account for 21% of HIV cases.

Wednesday’s dinner followed a ministers’ breakfast hosted by the Supervisor last year that brought faith leaders together to discuss the growing number of young African-American and Latino women who have contracted an STD.

Throughout the evening, the group was engaged as a PowerPoint presentation illustrated “hot spots” of infection in the district and emphasized the importance of screening. Mostly, however, emphasis was on the role of the faith community in being not only a source of information, but of comfort and a sounding board as its leaders preach the importance of testing and screening and care for the whole person.

“Ministers and doctors provide very different services,” the Supervisor told the group, “yet both are integral to the health and wellbeing of the African-American community. By holding these meetings, we can collectively educate a large portion of the Second Supervisorial District. “

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation.