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Oklahoma State Senate
Senator Judy Eason McIntyre
Senate District 11
Osage and Tulsa Counties

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For Immediate Release: February 14, 2008

Senator Judy Eason McIntyre
Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre

Senate Committee Approves Creation of HIV/AIDS Task Force

The Senate Health and Human Resources Committee unanimously approved legislation Thursday that would create a 13-member task force to examine the HIV/AIDS problem in Oklahoma’s minority communities and make recommendations for action.

Senate Bill 1829, was authored by State Senator Judy Eason-McIntyre, D-Tulsa, and will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

“The fastest growing health crisis across the nation in minority communities is HIV/AIDS,” said Senator Eason-McIntyre. “Here in Oklahoma, we must make it a priority to educate our citizens and raise awareness on this deadly epidemic. This task force will study the best ways to curb the rate of cases, find the best options for testing and treatment and protect our citizens from HIV/AIDS.”

The task force mandate includes assessing the problem of HIV and AIDS in the minority community; including the availability of access to testing and treatment; review programs throughout the nation that have had success in promoting HIV testing and in reducing the rate of new HIV infections; and in coordination with the State Department of Health, identify funds available from the state and federal government that may be used as grants for a pilot program for innovative and effective strategies to promote HIV testing.

The task force will also hold two statewide meetings, one in Oklahoma City and one in Tulsa, to allow the public to present all views and concerns regarding HIV and AIDS. It will publish a report of its findings and recommendations by Dec.1, 2008.

Task force members will include appointees from Gov. Brad Henry; the Speaker of the House; the Senate Pro Tempore; and designees from the Commissioner of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; the State Commissioner of Health; the Chief Executive Officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority; and the State Department of Public Instruction. Its first meeting will be held by July 15.

Heather Nash, community programs coordinator with the Tulsa Red Cross, applauded Sen. Eason-McIntyre for her legislation.

“HIV/AIDS is an epidemic that is not on the consciences of minority people as a result by the time those that are infected find out it unfortunately it is too late,” Ms. Nash said. “This task force is the beginning of defining what high risk is for minorities that live in Oklahoma. Black women definitely do not meet the profile of the current definition of high risk category for HIV infection, but make up 74 percent of the new infections among women nationally. Stigma, fear and the lack of trust keeps minorities from entering the agencies that can help educate, test and prolong life for those infected.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans make up 7.8 percent of Oklahoma’s population and the diagnosis rate of HIV/AIDS for that group in this state is 33 percent. Hispanics make up 6.9 percent of Oklahoma’s population and have a diagnosis rate for HIV/AIDS of 15.1 percent.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports that by the end of 2006, there had been 7,342 people diagnosed with either HIV or AIDS in Oklahoma since statistical record- keeping began in 1988. Among all the cases diagnosed, 20 percent (1,477) of the cases were African American.

OSDH statistics show that in 2006, African Americans saw about an eight percent increase of newly reported AIDS cases with 62 compared to 44 cases in 2005. New HIV cases remained steady with 52 new cases in 2006 compared to 53 cases in 2005.

Hispanics in Oklahoma saw an increase in AIDS cases, but a decrease in HIV cases. In 2005, there were 12 HIV and 25 AIDS cases for Hispanics. By 2006, new HIV cases for Hispanics increased to 21, but decreased for AIDS cases with 18. Native Americans saw their HIV and AIDS reported cases drop in 2006 with 11 HIV and 13 AIDS cases compared to 12 HIV and 15 AIDS cases in 2005.

For more information contact:
Senator Eason McIntyre's Office: (405) 521-5598

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