HIV/AIDS: Slowly, but steadily wiping out the African American community

By Ericka King from the Examiner.com:

I don’t believe there is anything more prevalent today than the obliteration of the African American community by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  The statistics are pervasive and grim, and as much as it pains me to repeat the numbers, we all need to be reminded of just how severe the situation really is.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports almost half of all diagnoses, living cases, and deaths resultant from AIDS, to be African Americans, with Black women leading the charge.  For a group that only makes up 12% of the population, half of practically anything is too much.  In Los Angeles, African Americans made up 27% of all AIDS diagnoses in 2005.  For years we have been inundated with information pertaining to HIV/AIDS, and awareness and prevention efforts have reached global status.  Unfortunately factors such as socio-economic status, high-risk sexual behavior, and stigma related to HIV/AIDS, still weigh heavy in the number of new cases diagnosed each year.   

My point here is to remind readers that because of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the national African American community is in dire straits, not to preach or throw out numbers as a scare tactic.  Still, it would be inappropriate of me to have this discussion and not provide readers with some information so that you can be aware and help prevent HIV/AIDS from spreading like California wildfire.  So, find out what HIV/AIDS is here; learn about prevention here; and find a prominent local resource for information and support, here.

There are, however, a few things you can do now:

Get tested.  Since part of the problem is in not knowing whether you have been infected, the Black AIDS Institute is calling on one million African Americans to get tested for HIV/AIDS by 2010, and time is running out.

Participate in the upcoming AIDS Walk Los Angeles, or in events for World AIDS Day on December 1st.  Or, choose another nationally recognized day, like National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day or National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day taking place September 27th, to stage an event or fair.

Support by donating your time, money or labor to one of the many AIDS charities in your community.  You can find one near you, here.

Time is of the essence and it is certainly not on our side, so get informed, get tested, and practice prevention. 


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