AIDS a Black disease?
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 2/8/2018, 11:17 a.m.
The Huffington Post has posted a piece on how AIDS disproportionately affects Black America. The piece talked about a first hand experience by a Black man who works with the Black AIDS Institute who was part of a group of men carrying a banner for the organization during a King Day parade. Some others began heckling the sign bearers with words such as “All Black people don’t have AIDS” and “You need to take that down. It offends us.” Explained Phil Wilson, “We tried to explain we were raising awareness,” but their efforts were not well received.” The piece was an opinion piece but raised some startling statistics. Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Many believe the AIDS epidemic is over, in part because HIV does not get the media coverage it used to. But nothing could be further from the truth, especially for Black Americans. According to Wilson, Black communities disproportionately bear the brunt of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America. Almost half of all new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. in 2016 occurred within the Black community alone, and in the year prior, Black Americans accounted for 52 percent of HIV/AIDS-related deaths in the U.S. These numbers are alarming on their own but carry additional weight when considering Black Americans make up only about 12 percent of the total U.S. population. And when looking at the Black LGBTQ community specifically, the results are even more grim: the Center for Disease Control and Prevention predicts Black gay and bisexual men in the U.S. have a 1 in 2 chance of HIV infection over the course of their lifetime. These statistics ― and the parade hecklers ― prove comprehensive HIV/AIDS awareness is as needed today as it was back in 1999 during the first-ever National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. All Black people don’t have AIDS, and all people with AIDS are not Black; however, AIDS in America is absolutely a Black disease, declares Wilson, who founded the Black AIDS Institute nearly 20 years ago.