Wednesday, February 22, 2006

HIV/AIDS is the number one killer of African-Americans between 22 and 45

Veronica Robinson:

When the HIV epidemic began some 20 years ago it was known as a gay, white man's disease, but the face of HIV has changed considerably since then. African-Americans make up 12 percent of the American population, but today half of Americans living with HIV are black. AIDS is the number one killer of African-Americans between 22 to 45 and the nation's capital has the highest rate of HIV infection in the country. Of D.C.'s residents, 60 percent are African-American.

So why has HIV become a much more black and brown disease?

When asked if being black means one is predisposed toward HIV, Marsha Martin, director of D.C's Administration for HIV Policy and Programs says, "That's not the case."

However, Cornelius Baker with the AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families says there's something going on in the black community, "whether it's the poverty or it's that a smaller group of people is having sex with itself."

D.C Department of Health Director Gregg Pane says as far as he's concerned, "HIV is public enemy No. 1." One out of 20 District residents is estimated to have the virus and with D.C's population being predominantly black, it is the African-American population that is disproportionately affected.

AIDS is the No. 1 killer of African-American women who are between 21 and 34, and these women are contracting the disease primarily through heterosexual sex. Negotiating the use of condoms between men and women in the black community can be a complex issue. "Many black women don't feel they can negotiate for their safety," Baker says.

There's a stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in the African-American community. Patricia Nalls, founder of the Women's Collective in D.C., says many black women "live in households where no one knows they're HIV-positive because they're afraid of the shame, the blame, the stigma."

President George Bush brought attention to HIV's affect on the black community in his State of the Union address in January, pledging that his administration will work toward ending the AIDS epidemic in the United States. But what are D.C officials doing to reduce the numbers of HIV-positive people in the city? For one, Marsha Martin says her agency, the Administration for HIV Policy and Programs, needs to offer "straight talk" in communities "that haven't gotten the message yet."

I caught HIV from a preacher

U.S. HIV Cases Soaring Among Black Women

HIV Increasing Faster Among Women Than Men, Report Finds


At 7:50 AM, Anonymous HIV+ Chat said...

Yikes, I knew HIV/AIDS would be the number #1 killer eventually, even in North America it is ranking high.


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