Yearly HIV/AIDS observance reminds us to continue to be vigilant…and careful
Monday, February 7, was National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the theme of which was “It Takes a Village to Fight HIV/AIDS.”
Indeed, it will take the concerted effort of an entire village to end this scourge that currently plagues Black America, which has cost millions of lives nationally and world wide either through death or the burden of living with the disease every day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Black Americans accounted for almost half of the people living with HIV infection at the end of 2007. In 2006, Black Americans accounted for approximately 46 percent of new infections in the U.S.
During this same period, the rate of new infections by Black men was six times higher than it was for White men.
For Black women the statistic is grimmer. In 2006, the rate of new HIV infections among Black women was nearly 15 times higher than it was for White women.
According to the CDC, one in 16 Black men will be diagnosed with HIV at some point in their life and one in 30 Black women will be diagnosed.
Though the rate of infection in Wisconsin is lower when compared to other states, Black Wisconsinites shouldn’t take comfort in that fact.
On the contrary. Though Black Wisconsinites comprise only 12 percent of our state’s population, the HIV infection rate for our community in 2008 was eleven-times greater when compared to White Wisconsinites.
Within the metropolitan Milwaukee area that same year, the rate of HIV infection among men who have sexual relations with other men was an astonishing 70 percent.
Between 2000 and 2008, the number of young African American men in Milwaukee infected with the disease through same sex intercourse nearly tripled.
As we stated earlier, it will take our entire community and its resources coming together to defeat this foe. We urge you to follow the recommendations of the CDC and local health officials to get tested and to abstain from practices that expose you to the disease—or at the very least protect yourself so that you lessen the chances of becoming infected. This goes for men and women alike.
Hopefully, the day will come when the yearly observance of this life ending and altering disease will be a thing of the past.
Until that day comes, let us be vigilant, prayerful and, more importantly, careful with our bodies and choices in our relationships.