Program Note: In CNN’s Black in America, Soledad O’Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Senior Medical Producer
Purcell was the first to be diagnosed. He was young, black (and beautiful) and gay. He thought he had his whole life ahead of him. He looked so scared when he told me "I have it, I have AIDS" and I was scared for him. That, it seemed, was just the beginning. Van, BG, Grayling, Glen. All young black men–friends of mine–whose lives were cut short by that deadly disease. None of them dreamed it would happen to them. After all it was supposed to be a gay white man's disease. That was twenty-five years ago. Who knew it would be a precursor of things to come? Today in America AIDS is a Black disease.
The Black AIDS Institute has just released a new report full of stunning and startling statistics on just how pervasive this disease has become in the Black community, and reveals shocking similarities between the AIDS epidemic among African Americans and some of the world's poorest countries. In Alabama, Blacks are 26 % of the population but make up 69% of all new HIV/AIDS cases. In Detroit, Michigan HIV infection rates are higher than Rwanda and Kenya–who has one of highest rates in the world. In Jackson, Mississippi, 84% of those living with AIDS are Black. In New York City the rate of infection among African Americans is higher than in Nigeria. And in Washington, DC, the nation's capital, more than 80% of HIV cases are among Blacks – that's one in 20 residents!
According to this report, if the approximately 39 million African Americans living in the United States were their own country it would rank 16th in the world for people living with HIV. Infection rates would surpass some of the most heavily affected countries like Botswana, Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast. Incredibly only 4 countries outside sub-Saharan Africa have higher rates of infection than Black Americans! The number of Blacks in this country with HIV is greater than 7 of the 15 countries the United States provides funding for through the President's Emergency Plan For Aids Relief or PEPFAR.
The CDC bears this out...they now estimate that more than half-a-million African Americans in this country are living with HIV/AIDS–with a whopping 30,000 new infections occurring each year! Blacks make up only 13% of the population but are shouldering the greatest burden of infection. In 2006 Black men are diagnosed 7 times more than white men. Black women 19 times more their white counterparts. It goes without saying, unfortunately, HIV/AIDS is a leading cause of death–and the number one killer in Black women age 25-34.
How did we get to such a place? To such runaway numbers? Where is the public outcry? Should there be more funding for prevention and treatment programs? Are we so focused (and rightly so) on helping others that we are forgetting, neglecting those here at home?
maxim7504, you are disgusting really, you are, you want to bring up God and him righting a wrong, now please clarify what wrong are you speaking of? Are you speaking of the unprotected sex, the child being born, or the existence of Black people at all because right now I am feeling like you are just a blatant racist person. and you have said nothing productive as of yet. Gods word says to hate the sin and not the sinner, I cant imagine that you are a saint and your life continues without once faltering from the word of God, do you deserve AIDS, do you deserve all the things that could happen resulting from one time. When you were 21 and you got drunk at that bar and drove home if you died did u deserve to? Please use you education that you claim to have and use your love for presumably the same God that I love and use that what he teaches to help save our brother's and sisters no matter what color they are. If for no other reason that that which touches one group will touch them all.
While I do feel sorry for those that are infected with and suffering with AIDS at the same time I must make the same comment that many other people have made about this topic.
When AIDS became recognized in 1981 it was understandable that those that became infected ended up with a death sentence, it was a new disease and no one knew it was coming. However in the year 2008 we all know how to protect ourselves, have heard stories about AIDS and personally lost friends and loved ones to AIDS so there is no excuse anymore for catching this disease. No one can try and hide behind ignorance. The only true victims of this disease are the very first victims that were infected during the 60's, 70's and 80's, they had no idea that the disease existed and therefore did not know how to prevent it. You can not prevent something if you don't know that it exists!
African Americans can not expect a white government that historically has shown nothing but disregard for the well being of black people to suddenly be concerned with a disease that we are bringing on ourselves. In addition the government is not responsible to police us in our bedrooms, it is our job to police ourselves and protect ourselves by:
1) Maintaining a monogamous relationship with men and women that are not in and out of jail, not promiscuous, not drug addicts sharing needles and not sneaking around behind our backs sleeping with homosexuals.
2) Stop meeting people in the clubs/bars and having one night stands assuming that they are not carrying AIDS. Everyone that we date must be thought of as an AIDS carrier, period! Put on a condom.
3) Stay off the internet looking for sexual encounters with strangers. There are a lot of people out here who have the disease and don't care if they infect other people.
4) Even if married or in a long term monogamous relationship continue to use condoms. People cheat and have sex outside of their relationships so better to be safe then sorry and end up dead.
5) Stop believing people when you ask them if they are HIV+ and they say no. People lie so use a condom even when they say that they don't have the disease.
The bottom line is this we are responsible for our own sexual behavior and it is our responsibility to protect ourselves from a death sentence. It is not the governments responsiblity. However I can not help but wonder if this epidemic could have been stopped in the beginning if the government would have quarantined the first victims and removed them from the general population.
The new drugs created to prolong AIDS victims lives is wonderful for them and deadly for the rest of us. The drugs keep them living longer but at the same time with them living longer they are here spreading the disease.
I just want to thank the church for its ongoing indifference to the epidemic in the Black community. Without your assistance tens of thousands of lives could have been saved, but alas the members filling the pews were scared and ignorant, and the church more concerned about potential loss of followers and plate donations.
Maybe if the church's members had known that the man sitting next to them was gay or on the DL, and had AIDS, then they would have realized that the disease was closer then they thought and that it had a very human face.
It could be friend, your lover, or your husband – education is paramount especially in poor areas of urban centers throughout the country.
Until we recognize that it is an issue for ALL americans we can not even hope to begin to address it in the hardest affected populations. It is not a Black issue – it is a human issue facing humanity as a whole – let's work together.
You make a good point. Poverty is the root of the problem. What do you suggest each one of us do to alleviate the situation?
Rahni, from Connecticut, are you kidding me?! This is no hype brother, this is as real as it gets. Wake up! In a few years time, your going to see the results of HIV sweep through the black community.
I will not get down on the Black community, but I have to say, they really need to get together and try and find a way out of this right now. There is no time to wait for a government fix. The black community must do something for them selves.
We need to be duping education into these communities and black leaders need to enlist the entertainment moguls to help spread this message.
If you have to, talk to a hood-rat on his level.
A united nation must take care of all its citizens and not let class nor race divide it.This care will strengthen the efforts of a united people toward self-sufficiency and eventual independence. America will begin to change and will embrace the philosophy upon which this country was founded, where all men are created equal and are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and not only poverty, disease, and suffering for some .Now I truly believe, you can, you must you will positively find creative approaches to this progressive problem.The idea is to help the blacks understand their environment so they will be able to effectively unite for their continued existence.Hard work today, reap success tomorrow, better society in the near future for everyone. Remember united you stand but divided you may fall. Every nation needs all its human resource. Incurable Diseases lead to deaths within populations. If you can save someone, save the black minority (as they appear socially and economically disintegrated) so they can be proud Americans, just as proud as their White and other Latino families. Reach Out and touch Black lives!!
Anderson Cooper is guilty of gross lies and deceptionand anti-fertility propaganda. Did anyone notice that the WHO and UNAIDS last month took the threat of heterosexual AIDS off women in all ethnic groups around the world except for "Sub-Saharan Africans", and this apparently includes African women in other parts of the planet.
It must therefore be obvious that African women and men must be doing something that members of other ethnicities are NOT doing? Funny thing is, researchers have never been able to figure out what that something is. The facts sometimes don't fit the hype.
It's not the condoms. The highest rate of condom usage in the U.S. is among African American woman. It's not related to STD's because gay men, while their HIV prevalence is dropping, are the only ones who are experiencing rise in rates of gonorrhea and syphilis. The suspected "men on the down low" phenomena was debunked by leading researchers from within the CDC itself.
Could it be that the rise in HIV diagnosis is directly related to the incidence of HIV antibody testing within certain demographic groups AND that the margin for error that allows for false positives is the source of this seeming statistical threat to African Americans?
Perhaps, the eugenics movement has stepped up its activity (again) and is using "voluntary unconscious selection" as a means of continuing to lower African American fertility. Perhaps Peter Duesberg was right and groups like Alive and Well, as well as Rethinking AIDS are correct in moving us all away from this distortion of epidemiological science.
Lastly, a total of 14,627 annual deaths from the 30 different diseases collectively known as AIDS is a rather minuscule threat when compared to such diseases as diabetes, which kills 16 times more in the U.S. annually. Yes, I DID say that AIDS definition in the U.S. includes 30 different diseases. Did anyone state that these 30 different diseases produce the leading cause of death for young black men or women? And that this amounts to only half of 14,627 deaths annually?
Please people, brush up your information gathering process and investigate The Great AIDS Hoax. There's far more there than most of could even imagine.
If someone murders another person in cold blood we arrest them, try them, then sentance them to DEATH. If someone has HIV, then passes the disease onto a new victim, do the same thing... execute them, and watch the HIV rate drop like a stone!
Well stated Tammy! HIV is THE defining event of our time. The statistics are so overwhelming that it is hard to assimilate – consider 25 million dead of the disease, more than 40 million currently infected and by 2010 some predictions say that 100 million will be infected. Also by 2010 some prediction state that there will be 20 million AIDS orphans in Africa.
It is not about black or white – in Russia there will be approx 8 million HIV infections in the next decade – it is a global humanitarian issue like the environment and it will require all of our combined efforts to make a difference.
HIV / AIDS
1) IT'S A TREATABLE DISEASE NOW,
2) PEOPLE LIVE A LONG TIME NOW,
3) A CURE IS NOT FAR OFF,
4) I'M NOT REALLY SCARED OF IT ANYMORE.
I have heard those comments said so often in America's Youth Today! It's a horror of the way younger American (back, white, other) are looking at the disease.
I worry about the Kids Of America, so many are being killed in our political wars, others with disease including AIDS.
Is it just education that stops it? I dont think so, the FEAR of it need to come back into reality.
Barbara, how in the world can aids be a white disease when it originated on the African continent??
To all others. To summarize what I was saying earlier... I believe the higher rate of HIV/AIDS among African-Americans is a result of the choices they have made, PERIOD. Blaming it on education, money... how sad they feel on any given day because of their station in life... whatever... those are excuses. If you make bad choices then you live (or die) with them.
These statistics cause great sadness and my heart goes out to the ones who are decieved into thinking that you can do whatever you want with this body and get around the consequences. we truly need revival in the black community , in our country and in our world.Lord forgive us and please send revival!
Aids started in the '80's as a white disease, and it still may be a white disease. Where are they getting these statistics? The People I know don't have AIDS. They did not poll me or my friends.
What's funny about all of this is that condom usage and promiscuity rates are about the same between blacks and whites. Black folks are just fishing in a smaller pool of applicants. Your biggest risk factor IS YOUR ZIP CODE and one HIV-infected apple can spoil a whole bunch.
According to the likes of jerimiah wrigt, kanye west, and spike lee, this is all George Bush's fault so you can all relax now. He will be replaced in 5 months.
Black people let's be really honest here. If this report had said that White people were the ones getting AIDS you would be on this blog making the same kind of remarks, that you seem to be getting so upset about. So please stop acting like you are any different. And when you say that a child who grows up around in poverty and seeing voilence and goes to schools that are run down, doesn't have a chance for any other kind of life. I say yes they do if only some of their lazy parents would get off their butts, and do something about it ,besides blaming the White's or The Government for their problems. If this is the kind of coming together of people from all races that Obamas preaching about, I think this is the biggest con-game I have ever seen, all this is doing is bringing to the surface all the hate and loathing that races really have for one another. GOOD JOB OBAMA.
As an African American I am very disappointed by this article. I am agreement that it is not the job of the government to stop me from getting an STD. I looked at the Centers for Disease Control website and 66% of black women are not HIV positive like someone stated in the blog. These numbers do not correlate with what is going on in Africa by any means and it would seem it is regional as well. I am from the Midwest and I have not lost anyone in my family due to AIDS and I do not know of anyone in my family that is HIV positive, including aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.
I also wonder that if Black women are contracting HIV from Black men why wouldn't their white partners be at risk also. Where I am from you hardly ever see a black women with a black male it is always black male, white female and these black men are not millionaires but black men who are recently released from incarceration. These white women have several children and baby fathers as well. I think that the tide will turn with black women and HIV to just women with HIV.
Transmission Category Estimated # of HIV/AIDS Cases, in 2006
Male-to-male sexual contact 17,465
Injection drug use 3,016 ( Men ) 1,712 (Women)
Male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use 1,180
High-risk heterosexual contact* 4,152 (Men) 7,432 (Women)
Noel....the "big picture" you describe consists nothing more than a sum of millions of "little pictures". In other words, each individual is a "picture" and must be responsible for his/her own actions. As for the government doing more, well, all of these little pictures are the government, and I for one, sense that millions of us are sick and tired of pouring money down various rat hole welfare programs that solve absolutely nothing other than to create people who live as dependents rather than independently. You want to curb this killer, and of course, so does everyone else. It's simple to stop. So, so simple. Use protection while having sex; be responsible and noone will die. In the end, the government is of no help if each "little picture" shirks his/her responsibility.
I think you better pay attention to a spelling bee and sentence structure, it points to your lack of education; many of the comments criticizing so-called Black life-styles points to a huge lack of education.
Many of you are only hanging on the coat tails a few that are dominating the American society and the world; if you have to let go of those coat tails, your half a brain won't get you anywhere in society.
So, before you look at Blacks, be introspective and think if you were faced with what we were and still are faced with every day, you would not survive. I'm proud of the African American heritage; still surviving after you have done unspeakable atrocities to us, your race could not survive that. Think, Think, Think.
The above notwithstanding, I think that Black people should begin a campaign of serious lifestyle change, stress education and ethics, foster an attitude that would be the "Black thing" to be educated and smart and totally independent of government hand-outs, so as to stop these half-witted people from treating us like dirt, (those who get their education from biased media outlets) only because they are the so-called 'dominant culture'
Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton are probably the two biggest racists in this country. I dont see them standing up and making themselves accountable? How can they? One of them has illigitmate children strewn throughout the country, and the other is under federal investigation. Quite literally almost all the black role models, are nothing more than TV whores who look for an audience and way to pad their bank accounts. NFL players going to jail, religious leaders being scorned, civic leaders pointing the fingers at whites and other races of our country so that they dont have to accept the fact that what has happened to black america is THEIR FAULT! I didnt tell that black guy to have unprotected sex, or to have 5 kids with 5 different women, but his music, his culture, his way of life and upbringing sure did. This isnt about numbers or statistics or ethnic minorities, this is totally ALL about personal accountability and responsibility, of which we know VERY few black people have. Blame it on the white man is what they are taught and what they believe. Im white, and I dont blame blacks for hard times in my life. I man up and fix it myself. Whats your major malfunction? Its not education or money or lack of money or lack of social programs. Good God, there are so many social programs in this country, everyone with a boo boo has a support group funded by taxpayers. Im starting a new group. The disenfranchised, pissed off, white mans group. I want federal funding, I want state funding, I want TV time, and I want to have illigimate children and talk crap about other races and get away with it, just like our African Americans do.
It seems that half of these people who have decided to blog are really not too educated because they are not looking at the big picture. The big picture is to summon the government to either fund the U.S. of more money to take care of our Country first before we fully support other Countries. No one wants to say hey the numbers speak for itself and we do need to do something about this statistical figures. All I see is the blacks do not take care of themselves, they do not use condom when engaging in sexually activities. It isn't anyone's problem until it hits their back yards. But if we do nothing about this epidemic, it will be knocking on our door real soon. So please stop pointing fingers at one another and let us all pull our resources and curb the numbers 1, 2 and 3rd killer in the United States. Let us continue to educate our young people. We adults need to lead by example.
Black people know how you get AIDS, just like they know how babies are made, yet they continually create children with fathers who leave, and then need the support of the government. Until these actions become unacceptable by their own community- or they are cut off completely from assistance- they will continue to languish in a world of their own making.
The "white in America" that most of my friends and family grew up in was one of neglectful,alcoholic parents and poverty. It didn't take us 2 seconds to buck up, get one, two, three jobs to go to school and make ourselves better. And when I applied to those schools did I get the aid or special treatment I needed?No.
What about Jewish in America? Kids whose parents watched their siblings or own parents dragged off to gas chambers, then came to America with nothing to make lives for themselves. Black in America, the ball is in your court.
Responsiblity, responsiblity, the government is not to be blamed here...as a black man I agree with Obama...get off our buts and take respnsobility...buy condoms or get the free from clinics...
Thank you Toni. I lost my son at 4 to a rare form of childhood cancer. Unprotected sex leading to HIV/AIDS is a choice that is made. I also know of others who have passed on from breast and other forms of cancer. I have a hard time feeling sorry for those with HIV/AIDS because they had choices and chose wrong. So now they are dealing with the consequences. They may not deserve having this disease but it's their own fault. Abstinence or condom has always been a choice. Regardless of being raised in poverty with limited choices does that mean that common sense should not be used?
I have been an HIV/AIDS educator and counselor since 1991. Ignorance and silence are the reasons we all are still battling these diseases at the numbers we are. No one is immune. Let me say it again. No one is immune. My friend who didn't know her boyfriend was a bisexual IV drug user wasn't immune when she contracted HIV while in college. My cousin wasn't immune when he contracted this from a man he loved and thought was safe. My friends weren't immune when they contracted this disease in the late '80's and early '90's not knowing what this thing was they weren't supposed to get. I've buried more people than I care to count that I love due to HIV and AIDS. Being wealthy and white didn't save them. Being poor and white had no bearing, either. Short of no sex, no needles, you can't ever know for sure. Education has to begin before sex and drugs enter a kid's life. And abstinence based education isn't realistic, the religious right and anti-gay movement need to get their heads out of their asses, and people need to realize that this disease isn't just a gay white man's illness. Learn to protect yourself. And stop judging those who aren't as perfect as you think you are. NO ONE deserves the horrors HIV and AIDS can inflict. NO ONE. Silence=Death and prevention is up to each individual and should be provided in some form through community, school, health clinics, church, and most importantly family. Then it's up to the person to take responsibility to stay safe. And yeah, we all have a responsibility to help each other when in need no matter what the country. Look up Nelson Mandela's 46664 program for ways to help in Africa (and there are many others besides this one). Just volunteer here to work to make a difference. FInally, I pray those of you who sit as judge and juror never go through the merry-go-round of HIV with those you love, you never talk them out of a terror of dying at 32, and you never bury them knowing this thing was totally preventable, never intentional, yet took them away when so much life was still yet to be shared. HIV doesn't know color nor creed nor gender preference nor SES nor number of sexual partners. It's a virus. It can be a lethal monster. And we all need to wake up to that fact no matter how safe we think we and those we love really are.
Does Soledad O'brien discuss this in her "Black in America" series? If not, she did a disservice to the black public.
I am a black single mother and would like to say that it's time black people take responsibility for their own actions. How long are they going to continue blaming slavery for everything and white society. No one told us to go out there and have unprotected sex. Accept the consequences, suck it up, get off welfare, get a job, move out of public housing and stop complaining. Life is tough, so what? As blacks we are our own worst enemies. Blacks live in housing, on welfare and have boyfriends who drive Lexus', Escalade, BMW. Why is that money going into something more meaningful. Maybe for those who have HIV/AIDS all that bling, bling will help you. NOT!!
If you break God's laws you suffer the consequences black or white. You will reap what you sow its true in my life and yours. It will not help to throw money at this problem. Its a moral crisis that started with the breakup up of the family and the illiicit sex that prevades our society. It s real simple if you want Gods blessings you must follow His Biblical commands.
ACurry: An educated black female? So, you must have missed out on the day that they taught statistics in class that day? Please take a few minutes of your busy day and look at the CDC website. Numbers speak for themselves. 50% HIV rate, 70% drop out rate, the highest teen pregnancy rate amongst ALL ethnic minorities in our country, highest population of criminals and repeat offenders, 70% of interracial crime is black on white, and not the other way around.
Condoms are free! Get yours at the local Community center, and save yourself. But, I have this feeling that the white community will be held accountable for the black communities actions, like usual. I can personally asure you that my ancestors never owned a slave, so what makes anyone think I should continue to pay for mistakes made by people and countries generations ago? Its very, very simple preventing AIDS/HIV! Use protection or dont have sex. Since we know that absitence is impossible amongst the black community, and wide spread sexual activity is encouraged by the music, the culture, and the fact that your Community leaders have illigimate children, it will difficult to beat. Maybe this is GOD's way or righting a wrong.......????? Ever consider that?
stan.....does anyone actually listen to those two idiots, these days??
I wonder if any of the black leaders has ever used the words "personal responsibility".. Sharpton probably never has... all he knows is that the government needs to help more... If he and Jackson could talk more about responsibility, and be more aware of whats happening in their own community, instead of whining about issues like Don Imus, Maybe SOME good might come of their existence !
I think the reason racism was even brought into the picture here was because it talked about how much a of problem HIV / AIDS is among the African American population, the focus was not on the white or gay community. It doesn't make sense to me why everything has to turn into a black and white issue and go back 200 years to slavery ( even though I am not denying the residual effects that remain from the most shameful part of American history).
The way I see it, this writing was trying to highlight a problem that many Americans didn't know existed to such an large degree in the U.S.... AWARENESS bring ACTION and Understanding.
as corny as it sounds ... knowledge is power!
So lets just try and figure out how to help the problem instead of fighting over who or what is to blame for it.
– sorry wrote this really fast, so please cut me some slack on my writing skills
Until you've walked a mile in someones shoe's, you should never judge them. I agree that some African American people need to take responsibility for their actions, but some really are trying and some didn't deserve what happened them. Some are married women who are very successful who have dealt with men or husbands who live double lives. No on deserves to be put down by people who are on the outside looking in. Remember, what goes around come around. Carma can get you through words...
Although the HIV rate is high among Afr Amr, generally speaking, this data unfortunately includes gays and drug abusers. Too bad this reporter did not provide a more detailed data that reflects mainstream black america (hetersexual couples, singles, students, etc.) too. The LA Times' HIV reports show the percentages two or three points higher than mainstream white america.
And to all the negative posts, YES, Slavery, Jim Crow, under-employment, excess credit rates, racsist teachers, and the Mafia's & FBI's peddling of drugs, alcohol and guns in black communities have all been a contributing factor to the demise of many black fathers, mothers and children who had difficulties to persevere under a bad economic structure, and greater still with the aforementioned. The sooner you can accept this, the sooner your kids can avoid the same fate.
Wasn't this part of a government conspiracy to eradicate the african american? I thought I heard some pastor, Jeremiah?, say something about that.
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