On June 2, 2010 the Office of National AIDS Policy convened a meeting at the White House with experts, policymakers, community-based providers, religious leaders, civil rights leaders, and black men living with HIV to discuss strategic plans to raise awareness about the HIV epidemic among black men and women. With the meeting the leaders and experts believed more funding was needed for counseling, testing, and targeted programs that would mix community efforts with the clinical services.
According to the Examiner, “Gregorio Millett, Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, states that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, estimates that 1 in 16 black men in the US will become infected with HIV.”
With the meeting had to come a realization that we have a problem in the black community. More and more African Americans are being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS now then ever, and it’s not getting any better. The targeted programs, the testing, and talks of safe-sex and communication seem to be going by the way side.
According to the Examiner:
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“The Michigan Department of Community Health reports that the prevalence rates of HIV in the State are nine times higher for blacks as compared to whites. Between the years 2002 and 2006, black men in Michigan was the only group that experienced a significant increase in the number of new HIV diagnoses when broken down by race and sex. In that same period, 76 percent of new diagnoses among 13 – 24 year olds were black.”
The Michigan HIV experts suggest black teens and young adults, and black men having sex with men, in particular, should be the focus of the aggressive prevention campaigns. Many are aware that black culture deems masculinity and fatherhood as a black man’s responsibility, and homosexuality as a white man’s perversion. The stigma in the black community has become a detriment to young women who are unaware of their partners’ night time activities, making 1 in 30 black women likely to contract HIV/AIDS in their lifetime.
According to the New York Times, “The Centers for Disease Control reports, one-third of young urban black men who have sex with men in this country are H.I.V.-positive, and 90 percent of those are unaware of their infection.”
“For African-Americans, facing and addressing the black AIDS crisis would require talking honestly and compassionately about homosexuality — and that has proved remarkably difficult, whether it be in black churches, in black organizations or on inner-city playgrounds. The mainstream gay world, for its part, has spent 20 years largely fighting the epidemic among white, openly gay men, showing little sustained interest in reaching minorities who have sex with men and who refuse to call themselves gay.”
Discussing HIV and AIDS has been difficult in the black community, but due to the steady increase of AIDS infections among black men and women communities have come out in numbers to come up with prevention and awareness plans.
According to the Examiner, “Dr. David Holtgrave at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health wrote an informational paper entitled, Optimizing HIV Prevention in Michigan. He provides facts, figures, and prevention efforts. “
The Root reports that ” During the White House Summit on Black Men and HIV, Community leaders from universities, faith-based organizations and youth groups presented what individuals and local coalitions can do to help support national programs.”
“The most striking testimony was from David Malebranche, professor of medicine at Emory University, who said that one way to truly mitigate AIDS rates is by offering black men “ways to cope” with the racism–institutional and otherwise–that leads to self-destructive behaviors. “Racism isn’t going away,” he said. “I’m confident I’ll never see a world in which it does. So we need to address the impact that has on our communities to move forward.”
With the recent Summit on Black Men and HIV, and the increasing support from community leaders, experts, and civil rights leaders, we can come up with the strategic plan to fight the disease that is killing many people of color in our communities.