Is it time for the black community to re-examine the HIV epidemic?
As the health community geared up to recognize National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day recently, startling new research revealed that the disease is five times more prevalent among African-American women than previously thought:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 32 African-American women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. But a national team of AIDS experts at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere say they are surprised and dismayed by the results of a new study they conducted, showing that the yearly number of new cases of HIV infection among black women is five times previous estimates from the CDC.
What’s more alarming is that the rate revealed in the ISIS study is comparable to estimated HIV incidence rates in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including the Congo (0.28%) and Kenya (0.53%).
Some of the factors increasing the HIV/AIDS risk for Black women include lack of access to health care and the inability to sometimes negotiate safer sex because of financial dependence on a sexual partner. In addition, because Black men have higher rates of incarceration, which can lead to concurrent relationships and the higher prevalence of AIDS in the Black community, the chances of infection are higher with each sexual encounter.
This is alarming news. The fact is that sex in America has become dangerous and serious. While getting tested, checking your partner’s status and protecting yourself are incredibly important, this may not be enough. Other considerations such as systemic, cultural and personal factors that keep us from building sustainable families should also be taken into account.
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