AIDS & Black People
A new study says that the rate of AIDS in the United States is 40% higher than previously thought and that black Americans are bearing the brunt of this epidemic.
“The rate of new infections among non-Hispanic Blacks was seven times as high as that among whites in 2006 (83.7 versus 11.5 new infections per 100,000 population),” the CDC said. “Blacks also accounted for the largest share of new infections (45 percent, or 24,900). Historical trend data show that the number of new infections among Blacks peaked in the late 1980s and has exceeded the number of infections in whites since that time.”
The CDC acknowledged what activists have being saying all along: More concentrated prevention efforts are needed if the virus is ever going to be contained among African-Americans.
“The continued severity of the epidemic among Blacks underscores the need to sustain and accelerate prevention efforts in this population,” the CDC said. “While race itself is not a risk factor for HIV infection, a range of issues contribute to the disproportionate HIV risk for African Americans in the U.S., including poverty, stigma, higher rates of other STDs, and drug use.”
The following is taken from the Centers for Disease Control report on AIDS as excerpted in Louisiana Weekly—
€ Standing on its own, Black America would constitute the world’s 35th most populous country, but would rank 16th in the world in the number of people living with HIV.
€ A free-standing Black America would rank 105th worldwide in life expectancy and 88th in infant mortality. Blacks in the U.S. have a lower life expectancy than do citizens of Algeria, the Dominican Republic or Sri Lanka.
€ Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, only four countries – and only two in the Western Hemisphere – have adult HIV prevalence as high as the conservative estimate (2 percent among adults) for Black America. Blacks represent about one in eight Americans, but account for one in two people living with HIV in the U.S.
€ Despite extraordinary improvements in HIV treatment, AIDS remains the leading cause of death among Black women between 25-34 years and the second leading cause of death in Black men between 35-44 years.
€ Black women in the U.S. are 23 times more likely than White women to be diagnosed with AIDS.
€ Blacks make up 70 percent of new HIV diagnoses among teenagers and 65% of HIV-infected newborns.
Here’s the bottom line–People of color can die in this country and the majority culture will–in most though not all cases– not care. Black folks themselves are going to have address AIDS. Part of this will be demanding that elected officials tackle this problem.
Another solution will be admitting the problem exists.
In 1994 I was part of a campaign for the Ohio State Senate from an urban district centered on the city of Cincinnati. The candidate I worked for was a black member of the Cincinnati City Council.
This candidate discussed AIDS. He said condom distribution and needle exchange were needed to help lower rates of AIDS. For this message, his Republican opponent and some local black preachers used these assertions effectively against him in the campaign. They said he was promoting immorality. These folks should have been run out of town. Instead, they were listened to as people got sick and died.
A society that does not care if you live or die is given a free pass when you do something self-destructive.
AIDS requires the attention of all people. But it is the folks most impacted who will have do the heavy lifting needed to fight the plague.