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.
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.
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.