I Wish I Were In Paris

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Is AIDS A Black Disease?

When I saw this headline on the CNN website I was floored. What the hell kind of question is that? Are we really that ignorant? The answer is simple. Yes!!

This reminds me of the lies that were told about HIV/AIDS and are still being told. Remember the lie that HIV/AIDS is a gay disease, and that only gay people get it? WRONG!! Remember the lie that you could contract HIV/AIDS from kissing someone with the disease? WRONG!! Remember the lie that you could contract HIV/AIDS by shaking hands with someone who has the disease? WRONG!! Remember the lie that you could contract HIV/AIDS by using the same dishes and silverware that someone with the disease used? WRONG!! Ooh, and the biggest lie of all is told by the Catholic Church, particularly in Africa. They tell people that condoms are laced with AIDS. WRONG!! Condoms can help prevent diseases!!

Now we're asking if AIDS is a Black disease? Are you kidding me?

Report: Black U.S. AIDS rates rival some African nations

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The AIDS epidemic among African-Americans in some parts of the United States is as severe as in parts of Africa, according to a report out Tuesday.

"Left Behind - Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS" is intended to raise awareness and remind the public that the "AIDS epidemic is not over in America, especially not in Black America," says the report, published by the Black AIDS Institute, an HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on African-Americans.

"AIDS in America today is a black disease," says Phill Wilson, founder and CEO of the institute and himself HIV-positive for 20 years. "2006 CDC data tell us that about half of the just over 1 million Americans living with HIV or AIDS are black."

Although black people represent only about one in eight Americans, one in every two people living with HIV in the United States is black, the report notes.

The report uses just-released data from UNAIDS and existing CDC and Census data to highlight grim statistics:

• AIDS remains the leading cause of death among black women between ages 25 and 34. It's the second-leading cause of death in black men 35-44.

• In Washington, more than 80 percent of HIV cases are among black people, that's one in 20 residents.

"Five percent of the entire population (in DC) is infected... that's comparable to countries like Uganda or South Africa," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN for the recent "Black in America" documentary.

According to this report, if black Americans made up their own country, it would rank above Ethiopia (420,000 to 1,300,000) and below Ivory Coast (750,000) in HIV population. Both Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast are among the 15 nations receiving funds from the President's Emergency Plan For Aids Relief. The United States has given about $15 billion to PEPFAR nations in the past five years.

The Black AIDS Institute says it's not criticizing the federal government for helping poorer countries cope with the AIDS epidemic. Rather, it's saying the "AIDS epidemic [in the U.S.] is not getting the kind attention that it merits."

"We understand the needs of black folk in Johannesburg (South Africa)," Wilson says. "Why can't we understand the needs of them in Jackson, Mississippi? We understand the needs in Nigeria or Botswana, why not understand the needs of Los Angeles or Oakland?"

Wilson says more needs to be done to prevent the spread of HIV in this country. The report states that the U.S. government "increased spending on HIV prevention, treatment and support programs for low-income countries dramatically, at the same time that domestic remained all but flat."

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, domestic prevention efforts make up the smallest part of the HIV/AIDs budget, the 2009 budget request includes $892 million for domestic HIV prevention efforts, the same as in 2008.

In this report, Wilson and others urge the federal government and private foundations to significantly increase funding for HIV prevention and treatment programs. The report also calls on international agencies to hold the U.S. government accountable for failure to address HIV/AIDS epidemic in its own country (despite lauding it for its PEPFAR efforts). It also urges black communities in the United States to fight the stigma and overcome prejudice associated with being infected with HIV.

"Peggy" found out 10 years ago that she was HIV positive. The fact that she's asked us to not use her real name is an example of the stigma that's still attached to having the virus that causes AIDS, especially in the African-American community.

"I don't really talk to many other people about it, 'cause I guess maybe, they don't want to talk," says the 27-year-old Lake Charles, Louisiana, woman. Others like her, she says, are still too ashamed to admit they have HIV.

Marvelyn Brown, 24, of Washington, is more open about her status. She learned she had HIV when she was only 19, after one time of unprotected sex while in a monogamous relationship.

Brown has told her story in a book, "The Naked Truth, " and to CNN in last week's special report, "Black in America." She regularly addresses community groups, trying to help educate blacks about the risk of of HIV and AIDS.

The report was funded by the Ford Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

The bottom line is, ANYONE AND EVERYONE CAN CONTRACT HIV. It doesn't matter if you're black, white, hispanic, asian, native american, or anything else. You can get the disease.

I'm really sick and tired of hearing that it's this group or that group's disease. It's a disease that anybody can get, PERIOD!!

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  • At 9:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    AIDS is not a black disease. Generally, it is a disease the largely affects people below the poverty line and those that are often under educated. In the US, many blacks fall into that category. With poverty often comes lack of sex education, among other things. I understand the goal of the article but the headline, and the quote it is derived from, is harmful and inflammatory. As a black woman I'm sitting here cringing. It paints me as an undesirable in terms of dating and marriage. I am not poor, uneducated or HIV+ but the article's presumption is that AIDS is so prevalent in the black community that I probably have it solely because I am a black woman. You must look at individuals and how they live their lives. No one knows my circumstances and whether I am high risk. I am not. However, after reading that article I know many men would unfairly steer clear of me -- which is unfortunate and saddening.

  • At 2:41 PM, Blogger ParisL0ve2 said…

    I have to take offense to something that you posted. You have made a few stereotypical comments regarding poor people.

    Being poor doesn't necessarily mean that you're under educated. Being poor doesn't necessarily mean that you're uneducated.

    What does somebody's economic status have to do with getting educated about sex? Most schools teach sex education. If "poor" kids are in school, they're getting educated about sex. Unless of course they attend some school where parents have bitched about sex education, and the school decided to pull the program.

    After reading your comments, one would have to conclude that the presumption is that AIDS is so prevalent in the poor community that they probably have it solely because they're poor.


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