The Black Epidemic

I saw an article today that made my blood run cold.

In certain areas of the U.S., black HIV/AIDS infection rates rival that of rates in some African nations.

Whew.

I had to let that sink in for a few minutes.

In this country, even though blacks only represent one in eight people, 80% of new HIV cases are coming out of the black community. In fact, in Washington, 5%- or one in twenty- black people are currently infected with the virus.

Right now African Americans account for over 50% of all U.S. HIV infections.

This is absolutely horrifying.

AIDS is now the number one killer of blacks. Number one. Not heart disease or cancer. Not car accidents.

AIDS.

If black Americans made up their very own nation, they would have more people infected with HIV than both Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast- combined.

Why are these numbers so high within our own community, as compared to others?

Some research shows that people of African descent have inherited a gene variant that makes us up to 40% more likely to become infected if exposed.

The key words here are if exposed.

If we do not allow ourselves to be exposed than we have no risk of getting this disease.

Gene variant or not, we are not behaving ourselves. We are not acting responsibly, and too often when our behavior leads to dire consequences, we are not accepting responsibility.

We become sneaky, we are in denial.

After attempting to absorb all the numbers, all I can think about is my daughters.

What does all this mean for my little girls and their future?

My two beautiful black-women-in-training are in terrible danger.

I can preach- shout from the rooftops- all day long about the importance of abstinence, or at the very least, condoms, but at the end of the day, when they’re out on their own, charged with making their own decisions, will it do any good?

Will they listen?

Is anyone listening? It certainly doesn’t sound like it.

I guess at this point all I can do is beg each of you to talk to your children- even if the conversation is an uncomfortable one.

Lead by example… we all need to be safe and responsible. We need to take proactive measures to prevent the further spread of this disease… and for those people for which proactive measures are too late, please- get tested, seek treatment… and be honest with everyone- potential partners, current partners, everyone.

I realize that there’s a terrible stigma that comes with being HIV positive, but millions of people’s lives- children’s lives, as well as our own- depend on knowing the frank, honest truth.

Please. Do what’s right, even as it may be a difficult task.

For my children’s sake and yours.

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6 thoughts on “The Black Epidemic

  1. It really is as simple as putting on a condom, or getting tested (and asking a potential partner to get tested as well). Yet so many people are still getting infected. It’s terrifying to me, how easy HIV/AIDs is to pass, and how in denial some people are. I’ve had guys tell me “Oh yea I’ve been tested” and when I ask in more detail, it comes out that they haven’t been tested for years (but have had multiple partners in that time).

    This is just one reason I’m an advocate for sexual education in our schools (and not the “abstinence only” kind). We need to educate our youth…re-educate ourselves.

  2. I’m worried that HIV/AIDS is going to become more of a danger than just putting on a condom.
    http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2008/07/16/Scientist_study_genetic_variants_and_HIV/UPI-60021216232389/

    Here is another article on it
    http://www.pslgroup.com/dg/221a2e.htm

    I think we need to stop sugar coating the world. Now I don’t have kids but, how many kids have watched their friends die of AIDS? Not to many yet, thats what really worries me more. Think about the HIV numbers and how fast they are growing in the current culture of sex, we aren’t going to see the consequences until its to late and by then it will be a shock to the entire world. If they don’t find a cure soon, we could be looking at entire cities. What then? So whats the cure? I’ll be praying tonight about that.

  3. Hi SpiritOfTruth-

    You are absolutely correct. This AIDS epidemic truly makes my blood run cold.

    Children, the entire world over, are facing a huge, horrible epidemic… and it just seems like it’s still a taboo topic for so many.

    We aren’t talking about it enough, we aren’t doing enough educating, enough research… but we are using large amounts of energy to sweep it under the rug.

    I know parents who refuse to talk about these things with their children because they “don’t want to scare them”.

    I would argue that they NEED to be scared. Very scared. The way to lessen the fear isn’t to ignore the risk, but rather to give our babies the tools they need to make educated decisions… teach them of all the risks involved in promiscuous and unsafe sexual behaviors.

    Knowledge is the best weapon against fear.

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