Feb. 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an observance intended to raise awareness of the extremely and disproportionately high rates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and life-long impact of HIV/AIDS on blacks or African Americans in the United States.
Compared with other races and ethnicities, blacks had the highest HIV prevalence in 2009 and the highest incidence of new cases in 2010. In general, blacks had an HIV incidence of 68.9 per 100,000 population, which was about eight times higher than the rate in whites. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy is to reduce HIV incidence and HIV-related disparities.
In 2010 among black females, heterosexual contact with a person known to have the disease, or to be at high risk for HIV infection was associated with an estimated 87 percent of new infections. The rate of new HIV infections for black females in 2010 was 20.1 times higher than the rate for white females.
In 2010 among black males in the U.S., male-to-male sexual contact was associated with an estimated 72 percent of new HIV infections. Among black men having sex with men, those 13–24 years old accounted for 45 percent of new HIV infections. This group had the highest HIV incidence of any age and racial/ethnic subgroup. By comparison, the rate of new HIV infections for black males in 2010 was 6.6 times higher than the rate for white males.
The threat of HIV/AIDS varies in geographical locations. HIV deaths are highest in Florida, District of Columbia, and Louisiana. One person estimated 80 percent of black males in Miami have at least one viral sexually transmitted disease. The newer HIV/AIDS medications now allow infected persons to live longer, but they are infected lifelong and can transmit the disease. Past legal cases have stated that an infected person is not required to reveal HIV/AIDS infection status. In short, every person must get tested periodically and use preventive measures like abstinence.
Proper condom use is necessary. Alcohol and drugs will decrease your common sense. Even married persons are at risk if the partner is involved in sex outside of the relationship. Our local area has a number of sex groups, so I recommend that all persons use periodic testing. Older men (and women) generally throw caution to the wind, and refuse HIV/AIDS precautions, so women dating or married to older men may have a higher STD infection risk. Women get tested automatically during pregnancy. If you become HIV/AIDS positive, you will need the test results to inform you that you need to seek medical treatment which can improve your quality of life, prolong your life and prevent transmission to others. Sexually abused persons should always demand full testing of the assailant.
Across the nation we must fight the spread of HIV/AIDS among the black population through education, testing, advocacy and treatment. Get tested by your doctor or, if no insurance, for free at the Madera County Department of Public Health.
Questions? Contact me by email at: saveourvalley at hotmail.com
Loraine Goodwin, M.D., J.D.,