African-Americans and HIV: how should we respond?

Natalia with Phil Wilson, ED of Black AIDS Institute

Natalia with Phil Wilson, ED of Black AIDS Institute

Contributor: Natalia Cales

While listening to many press conferences and reading the daily AIDS 2008- Global Voice newspaper, it is clear that many feel we are not succeeding in the response HIV and AIDS. From Africa to Asia, in the Caribbean and the United States, HIV is on the rise! Some researchers state “stopping the Epidemic is possible”, but do they really have the “perfect solution”? With additional treatment methods and an increasing ARV medication list, why are the statistics showing this alarming trend.

As a young woman from America, I am very concerned about the recent statistics regarding the rising epidemic. Recently, the Black AIDS Institute (BAI) in the United States published a report, Left Behind, reflecting the state of AIDS in Black America. During a press conference held at the IAC, I had the pleasure to listen to several influential black leaders from the US discuss this report, including Phil Wilson, US Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Pernessa Seele, Dr. Helena Gayle, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Dr. Jacob Gayle.

Even though the United States is leading the global response to HIV and AIDS, it has failed to address the rapidly growing epidemic within its own borders, the Black AIDS Institute reported. Phil Wilson, CEO of BAI stated that “More Black Americans are infected with HIV than the total populations of people living with HIV in seven of the 15 countries served by PEPFAR.” (PEPFAR is the US government program of extraordinary aid for countries severely impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.) Among the 56,300 newly infected people in 2006 in the US, heterosexuals accounted for 31% of new infection. And, of course, women represented the majority of those infected.

The panel also expressed their concerns of how Black America infection rates are very similar to the countries in Africa with the highest rates of HIV and AIDS. The question on everyone’s mind attending was “what do we do next to fix this problem?” In my opinion there is not an exact answer to this question.

By attending this press conference, it really hit home and gave me a better understanding of how “we truly are no succeeding in the response to HIV and AIDS.” Despite knowing these facts, I am still hopeful that one day there “will be life without AIDS.” I am very determined to make a change and empower other young women to find solutions!

Kind regards until next time!
Natalia Cales – YWCA USA

One Response

  1. Thanks for this post – we are all affected by AIDS: rich or poor! How should we respond? We need to take care of our own, we need a government that can work on foreign policy but not at the expense of black people at home. I don’t want to sound partisan here but these statistics should not surprise us… the black community has long been ignored in health care, housing, etc. We need a fund like PEPFAR for black people!

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