Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Epidemic: AIDS In The Black Community

The numbers are beyond alarming.  None of this is "news."  Most of us are aware that there is an epidemic of HIV/AIDSs in the Black community. 

Studies show that there are some communities in the United States that have a higher rate of infection than Africa!  For example, in the nation's capital 1 in 30 adults is HIV infected.  In New York, it's 1 in 40.

As the chart (right) shows, HALF of all AIDS cases diagnosed in the 2007, were in the Black community who remember only make up a total of 12% of the U.S. population.  Nearly 70% of these new cases are Black women.

That is just CRAZY.

How did this happen?

One thing that stands out to me is that, this is not an epidemic that is isolated to a certain geographical or socio-economic area.  Sure it is higher in inner city and urban environments but young black professionals are also among the groups with a high rate of infection and nearly 20 percent of infected people don't know their status!

Am I the only one who thinks this is scary?

Why are we destroying our community and spreading this deadly disease like freeze tag? (h/t Godson for that line). 

Our communities are already being ravaged by violence, gangs, drugs, out of this world levels of incarceration, and police brutality, why can't we be more responsible with our sexual encounters (Keep in mind a significant portion of the overall numbers come from drug use although this is not the majority)?

To get the discussion going I've outlined a few of my own thoughts below but I would love to hear your feedback so please add your two cents in the comments:

- We don't talk about sex.  It's everywhere.  On teevee.  In movies.  On the radio.  On magazine covers.  But we don't talk about it.  I remember growing up MTV used to have safe sex programming and Salt-N- Pepa had a song but how many of us have had an in depth discussion with our parents or another adult as opposed to learning about it from our big cousin?

- The black church forces us to keep everything a secret.  Not only are we shamed into keeping all sex a secret, homosexual behavior is especially hidden deep in the back of the closet.  Therefore, both straight and gay men  and women simply remain silent about sex.

- The prevalence of homophobia in the black community.  Because it is seen as unacceptable or immoral to many, homosexual behavior is largely ignored or hidden and people are not likely to be tested.  Also, recently articles have focused on professional married men who have homosexual urges are forced to have secret sexual relationships, which are unsafe not only for them because many do not have protected encounters, but also for their wives who are none the wiser.

- Drugs.  Without needle exchange programs in every community, HIV spreads with reckless abandon. 

I would love to hear your thoughts and any solutions you can think of to tackle this problem.
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