To commemorate World AIDS Day, Black media is raising awareness around the pandemic. Here’s a look at some of those stories:
African American entertainment and news source, BET.com, explains the history of World AIDS Day, why it is especially important in our community and how Black Americans can get involved:
This year's theme "Getting to Zero: Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination. Zero AIDS-Related Deaths" is extremely relevant to the African-American community. AIDS is the number one killer of black women ages 24-35. Black men who have sex with men (MSM) have the highest HIV rate among all racial groups of MSM. Overall, while African Americans make up a mere 14 percent of the overall U.S. population, we account for almost half of all HIV infections that are diagnosed each year. And to make matters worse, we are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV and AIDS at the same time than any other racial group, meaning we wait getting tested until we are already really sick.
But this doesn't have to be our destiny.
Knowledge is the key. So for the entire month of December, BET.com and the Rap it Up Campaign are teaming up with TheBody.com, the Black AIDS Institute and Housing Works to provide you with up-to-date information and news about treatment, prevention and HIV/AIDS resources to better educate you about this epidemic.
Ebony.com, the website for the monthly magazine that focuses on the African American community, emphasizes why it is crucial that we get tested and know our status:
Of great importance is testing. HIV doesn’t always give warning signs, and testing is truly the only way to know our status. Ignorance isn’t bliss and knowing could be the difference between life and death. 20% of people with HIV (in the U.S. and around the world) don’t know it. Without this knowledge, not only are people infecting others, but the disease is getting a chance to ravage their bodies without intervention. Medical care for those infected makes a world of difference. Thanks to advancement in technology and medicine, people are living longer and fuller lives with the disease. HIV is no longer a death sentence.
However, “getting to zero” will really take prevention and education. The goal is to no longer have new people infected with the virus, either through sex, intravenous drug use or through mother-child transmission. We have to make sure we’re educated about HIV/AIDS because it is the most deadly disease in the world that isn’t contagious, malaria OR cancer. But it’s 100% preventable so we can stop it.
We have to make more responsible decisions with our bodies. This means talking openly with our partners, using condoms and practicing safe sex and using clean needles.
In an HIV pledge to protect Black women, Essence.com, the online companion to the Black women’s periodical Essence magazine, suggests five simple but life-changing ways to prevent the spread of the disease:
Have Fun Getting Tested
We love to plan group events, and HIV testing is a great bonus to add to whatever mixer you have coming up. Earlier this year a friend had a party, and included a station for HIV testing with rapid results among the festivities. I had my test done (did I mention it was free?), got my glass of wine, and went back 20 minutes later to find out my status. I was negative! I celebrated with another round.
In a series of articles focusing on HIV/AIDS, theGrio, a news site geared toward African Americans, highlights the disproportionate impact on the Black community, debunks common myths, explores the role of the Black church in HIV prevention and more:
Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day, and in the United States we must draw attention to the need to combat AIDS in the African-American community.
Blacks make up only 14 percent of our population but account for 44 percent of all new HIV infections, making them the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS, according to the Centers for Decease Control and Prevention.
One in 16 black men and one in 32 black women will be diagnosed with HIV at some point in their lifetime, the CDC predicts. In 2009, black men had an HIV infection rate more than six and a half times as high as white men, and two and a half times as high as Latino men, as reported by the CDC.
Huffington Post’s Black Voices takes a look at President Obama’s new steps to combat AIDS and the importance of empowering Black gay men to lead the struggle:
The most recent statistics indicate that an entire generation is being impacted by HIV on an epic scale. HIV cases among young, black, gay and bisexual men increased by an estimated 48 percent between 2006 and 2009, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ultimately, it is impossible to discuss HIV/AIDS in the black community without addressing the importance of tolerance. It is up to us -- relatives, co-workers and friends -- to engage our black, gay brothers in a conversation that is constructive and rooted in concern, one that turns to them for insight instead of turning them away.
The Root, an online source of news and commentary from an African-American perspective, does an assessment of the journey ahead of us to truly achieve this year's World AIDS Day mantra of "Getting to Zero: Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination. Zero AIDS-Related Deaths":
Just looking at the U.S., we have so many obstacles standing in our way. To name a few that push this disease further into the closet: conservative lawmakers and constituents who view this epidemic as a moral issue as opposed to a public health crisis; a lack of funding and support for lifesaving policies such as needle exchange and comprehensive sex education; a broken health care system that makes itself too hard to access for those at the highest risk; doctors' own biases about who needs to be tested; and silence, stigma and misinformation about the disease.
Now add in issues such as poverty, racism, homophobia, gender oppression and the overall lack of compassion for people living with the disease, and it's easy to see how, 30 years later, this epidemic continues to run rampant in this country. And it's not a secret as to which communities this disease runs rampant in: the ones that are the most vulnerable, the most fragmented and with the least amount of power, influence and options.
To find out what World AIDS Day events are happening in your area, go to wordaidsday.org.