July 29th, 2008
12:15 PM ET

Black and beautiful – and HIV positive

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.

Saundra Young
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?

Filed under: Black in America
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Paul in Utah

    Incorrect social behavior has it's consequences. Too much whiskey results in alcoholism. Too many Big Macs results in obesity. And unprotected sex results in STD's and pregnancies (unwanted). None of this is unique to the black community, but these statistics should tell us that using some form of protection would be beneficial.

    July 29, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  2. Endiva77

    I am really appauled at all the ignorant and racial statements that have come across this blog! As an educated African American women, I see where the division clearly is, this is not a topic about us vs them, but merely a humane issue, so when ignorance takes the for front of an issue it onley hurts all of us as Americans!

    I wouldnt know but it appears that more White people on this blog have addressed the issue of slavery, more so then any African American on this blog, if it is in deed our problem why is it that when Blacks talk about there tragedies a white person is quick to think we blame everything on slavery?

    Im just wondering how this topic about AIDS became a topic about slavery? We still have a long ways too go and it really apparent by the ignorance that is posted on this blog!

    July 29, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  3. Richard


    that was on of the most racist comments I have ever heard. You should be ashamed. I am ashamed that America is home to ignorance like yours. That mentality is why America is so divided today. Help your neighbor, don't scorn them

    July 29, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  4. Katie Franklin

    P.S. The only federally funded sex education programs are "abstinence-only," which essentially teaches kids that condoms are bad, but people are still going to have sex anyways. So in this sad day in age, education doesn't necessarily mean making safe decisions when it comes to sexual health.

    July 29, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  5. Dan in St Louis

    When less stated "Its argued that simply throwing whites’ money at it will break the cycle, the very scheme the CIA cooked up to murder Africans."

    I get very angry because that story came from an African-American from St Jose news paper who also recanted his story and said sorry.

    Don't blame white Americans for it; I for one love all people and have the most compassion for African-Americans because of what white Americans continue to inflect on African-Americans knowingly or unknowingly.

    Just keep up the good work at surviving my good brothers and sisters of the African-American community.

    With Love, Dan

    July 29, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  6. Robyn S

    WOW....some of these comments truly sadden me, especially the one left by KWoods.

    I think of my uncle who is dying from HIV, because of his wife’s promiscuity (who is not African American, although he is.) My uncle is a highly educated man (graduate from West Point and Prairie View A & M Univ), a veteran, a husband, and by all means, a statistic that is included in this story.

    When you say such IGNORANT things like; "that the black community should worry about their problems and stop blaming all their problems on slavery." you ASSume that this is a racial problem, when it is COMPLETLY a social problem. Issues like this target the black community and will be cyclical until enough a large enough concentration of PEOPLE (regardless of race), come together to eradicate these issues. And these issues will grow, until they consume a race, and will spread to others; like all infectious dieases before them.

    Ignore these statistics if you want. Continue to think that this is an HIV is confined by the melanin of skins...and one day your daughter, mother, son or in my case uncle will be included too.

    This is not simply a cultural 'thang', it is a multi 'cultural' thang. While I agree that hip-hop glorifies sex, bling, and the mistreatment of women....I am also knowledgable to the fact that Hip-Hop is not giving Paris Hilton her own reality TV show, and I am sure Rap is not filling magazine racks with gossip mags that display little Brittany Spears private parts or 16 year-old Jamie Lynn Spears with her newborn baby.

    These are issues that we as American face. Don’t be blind to them, because you think they specifically deal with race.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  7. Mamma

    I would have to agree with many of the comments I see here. I am a gay women, by the way....(pretty irrelevant here, but anyway).

    200 yrs of slavery and even gross racism CANNOT be the scapegoat for people living carelessly, with little or no prudence given to their sex-lives and health. In other words, if the Black community (or gay male community) is disproportionately affected by this tragic disease then I think they should really dust themselves off and (take responsibility) for what has happened to them.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  8. Katie Franklin

    Seriously people??? We've resorted to blaming the victim? I guess a woman who wears a mini skirt in public deserves to be raped, too. She asked for it, right? Her right to express herself is only given if she forfeits her right of protection from violence.

    "Go to school and get educated." Yea, it's really that easy for everyone. Especially when the public schools in your area are incredibly poor. Especially when you have a single mom and 5 siblings to take care of, putting food on the table becomes the main priority. Especially when your neighborhood is ridden with gangs and violence, staying alive becomes your main priority.

    Take the silver spoons out of your mouths and stop judging people that you know nothing about. The only way we're going to find a cure is by working together. We need to go out and make sure that everyone gets educated instead of putting the burden on the individual. We can't just say, "Too bad, it's your fault anyways, I'm not going to help you," because guess what? The only thing that will happen is that AIDS will spread more and more. We can't stop fighting, nor can we only fight for certain groups of people. Unlike many of you, AIDS does not discriminate. Who do we want to win this battle: AIDS, or us?

    July 29, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  9. GP/AZ

    Half, a rather large number...who are the other half? and why is the article all about the black side? if we are raging against HIV/AIDS why add the color.

    Black America, please quit blaiming the past, join America, stay in school, EARN that pride, and show everyone (all colors) that you are what you want to be 🙂

    and lastly, the information has been out there for over 20 years, money will not solve this, personal responsibility...let's all say it together.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  10. Mimosa

    I regret to inform that I am appalled by all your comments.
    This is an epidemic that is caused by an inevitable circle-of -life for most African-American children.

    I do not deny that the Media, such as Rap videos, do impact African-American life, but it is also cause be neglect from society and parental guidance!

    Inner-City schools or urban life are filled with Children who have been expected and destined to fail. Our school system or the government needs to do more in order to break this cycle. You must understand where they come from; some are raised in a single-family homes with no guidance or little supervision. The parent is frustrated because of their misfortune, leading to more disappointment and less supervision. Where can they turn or better who can they turn too? --The media or the streets- because this gives them hope.

    How about the pressure to stay "Thugged" by society? They have been place in schools with very little or no diversity; how can they learn culture? If they do not have an effective role model how do you expect prosperity? If they read comments like the ones posted above, how can they remain positive? This is the issue - statistics show we have a problem, but society (although mentioned) choose to criticize instead of leading a helping hand. I don't see any changes in the near if we have this type of attitude….

    July 29, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  11. Laura

    Where has the black community been for the last 15-20 years. HIV prevention has been all over the newpapers, TV (+MTV), in the schools, radio, etc. Did the rest of the country listen and take heed and somehow the black community missed that or thought it didn't include them?

    The government should not have to spend additional money to "redo" its campaign that has been in place for 20 years.

    Take personal responsibility. Condoms help to prevent pregnancy and AIDS – or so I've heard!!

    July 29, 2008 at 3:40 pm |
  12. nisey

    I am very surprised of the comments I'm reading to a point, but believe in me I can tell who's making the comments. trust in me, I'm going to say it.
    there are plenty of whites living with aids but society is too busy focusing on the black race that there's no attention on the whites.....My advice to everyone is to get yourselves together because you just do not know.. its not just sex!!! what about drugs, your pass lives..... its okay to say no!!!!!

    July 29, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  13. Dee Dee

    What about th emarried men and women who by chance finds out they've caught this disease from a cheating spouse, the child born with it because his mother had it, the unsuspecting woman (or man) raped and finds out about it, or hell even the woman who's in a commited relationship whose man didn't know his status and passed it on? Are all of these to be blamed on the hip hop culture? Why is it not fair to be outraged at a government who is more concerned about overseas affairs than its' own citizens? If the government would take care of home first before they try to play super hero to everyone else maybe this nation wouldn't have as many of the crisis it has

    July 29, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  14. B

    I just find it absolutely amazing how white people in America still choose to think. I find it sickening that these so called educated people are on this board making these comments. Yes all people should take full responsibility for their actions, however this is an epidemic and illness that is gripping our world today. I know that it is very hard for some people to feel compassion and understand what is not their own but please look at the facts first. AIDS is not only spread by unprotected sex, it can be spread through bodily fluids, through drug use, and to your unborn child. If your white daughter or white grandchild were to contract this illness what would the problem be then? This is a problem that involves everyone because it knows no boundaries of color, sexual orientation or otherwise. Prevention is key but working towards a cure and to make medicine more affordable is also very important. It breaks my heart to see readign on these various postings that we are all still so trapped by color and so blind to whats important. Life, any life should be important. People make bad choices every day from your son deciding to drink and drive to your daughter having unprotected sex neither means that they deserve to die, or kill some one, or get pregnant. So as "educated adults" take a look at what your saying and how your thinking because the mind can be a deadly thing and the thoughts posted daily are toxic.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  15. Kimberly

    To those who are on the outside looking in, being those who feel that this is a Black ordeal instead of a human tragedy, can easily shift blame strictly to the Black community but unlike some comments, I know that racism, slavery, discrimination and other disparities equals a lowered self-love, appreciation and distorted view of life. If as a child all you see is despair and feel the stares and criticism from the privileged then what do you expect. STOP SHIFTING BLAME! And for those who speak of Slavery as if it doesn’t pertain to our current crisis is as blind and ignorant as our current President. Slavery is not just a term that is used today as a scapegoat; it was the curse of Blacks for over 200 years. A life of no moral regard or human kindness by Whites or Euro's. Remember King was assassinated just 40+ years ago...HATERD.. Be educated on who the BLACK MAN IS then draw your narrow-mined conclusion.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  16. B

    a lot of these comments sounds racist. is anyone here african american or have african american friends?

    July 29, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  17. LeeLee Columbus, GA

    The sad truth is that some people believe that they are in committed relationships until the test results prove otherwise.
    Funding for education and prevention is extremely important because unfortunately, there is nothing out there; condoms or otherwise that provides 100% protection.
    Knowing all the facts about this disease and what areas are most affected may make those who think that HIV/AIDS has a "look" realize that new treatments are extending the lives of those who are infected; they can look completely healthy and live with the disease for decades. The picture of Tom Hanks in "Philadelphia" with the telling skin lesions and fragile appearance is virtually no more. The prettiest young lady or sexiest young man 'that you've ever seen" may be infected and know it and may never tell a potential partner because they know what would likely happen if they did.
    Funding for treatment is important because we may find a way to eradicate this deadly disease or at least find a way to prevent it from spreading.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  18. Meg

    It is staggering to hear these statistics. I attended an HIV/ AIDS conference at my college last year and we heard all the horrifying statistics that engulf many parts of Africa. However, there was not a word said about how out of hand the HIV / AIDs has become within the Black community, right here in America!

    I partially agree with the different people that have claimed that this is a self infected problem within the black African American community. Yes, it is your responsibility to have protected sexual intercourse but everyone is human and people do mess up ( but no one deserves to have to suffer with HIV/ AIDs, NO one)! HIV can stay dormant within someone system up to 10 years .... meaning you could give the virus to someone even though you don't know you have it ( I believe when you first get infected by HIV you can still test neg for HIV.. but don't quote me on that !!).

    Also, there will never be a cure for HIV / AIDs because it is a VIRUS and you can't cure a virus, it will stay within your body for the rest of your life.

    No matter what the only way to help yourself and the problem is to sustain from sex and or use protection ( which is most realistic).

    July 29, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  19. Martin

    If the American Negro would just stop all the fornicating they do then perhaps this would not be an issue. What good is a public outcry for prevention when most American Negro men refuse to use a jimmy hat.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:51 pm |
  20. Cherisa

    My frustration with this series is the constant presentation of statistics with little or no time spent addressing how those numbers got so high (or in some cases, low). The question “How did we get to such a place?” should be towards the top of this post, not in the last paragraph. Answer those questions first then let’s engage in conversation about changing the course.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  21. glen

    While I agree with most of the comments in regard to personal responsibility and sexual behavior, the thing that strikes me as odd, is how the media and goverment continue to act as though education on AIDS and STD's is something that hasn't yet reached the masses. I think it fair to say that almost all American adults know that unprotected sex and needles can spread disease. It's time to stop pretending we don't know and start holding those with HIV/AIDS and other STDs accountable for knowingly spreading it to other.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  22. Toni

    CNN just reported HIV as an epidemic and has contacted the CDC
    about how they are trying to resolve this problem. What about
    CANCER!! Is it not an epidemic at this point?? Everyone has, or knows someone who has been affected by cancer. What is the
    CDC doing about this! I have breast cancer and my sister passed
    away two years ago with it. One in seven women are now being
    diagnosed with it! Thousands are battling all tyoes of cancer every day! I feel for those that are HIV positive. I have lost a good friend to
    AIDS in the past. The difference here is that MOST HIV positive
    people have a choice! MOST cancer patients DID NOT have a
    choice. I'd like CNN to address the cancer issue and find out
    what is being done about it!

    July 29, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  23. Dina

    Hi, I'm Black Female who's heart is agonizing over these results. Sometimes it's hard to know where to begin. Many of those infected are impoverished and culturally conditioned by the Rap music, video's, lifestyle, and lack of education and home training and guidance. I myself and HIV negative of course. I'm well educated and live a responsible life. I feel that we have got to remove the negative influences that invade our Black culture. Such as stand up against the Rap artists that produce the irresponsible, immature, premiscuous, 10 children having, non family oriented music. Then, sex education needs to be taught in our schools. Next, our jpeople both parents, cousins, uncles, should talk freely to our children about the consequences of HIV and safe sex and abstinence. So should the churches. There should be community programs that speak on prevention and keep this issue in the forefront. Other programs should target encouraging education, completing High School, attending college and earning advanced degrees while teaching the children and young adults to escape the perils of poor and HIV stricken lives.

    I'd also like to mention that many professionals get HIV to. So the sadness of irresponsibility does exist in other socio economic areas.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  24. Rob

    All the compassion in the world for those afflicted, but why on earth use the words "shouldering the greatest burden" as if it is someone else's fault. HIV isn't something new and unknown. There's no excuse for anyone having unprotected sex.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:41 pm |
  25. KB

    While I believe there should always be compassion, I don't believe in making excuses for our own decisions. Unless someone is raped, the choice to have sex and do drugs is up to each individual. It is especially concerning that many younger people born in the 80's and 90's( of any race) are not listening. Just because now there are drugs to prolong people's lives, it doesn't mean people should be completely careless. The drugs don't save everybody AND the are expensive. We are human and have the capacity to think before we act. The government can and will only do so much. The choices are ultimately up to us, not matter what our politics, culture, race or religion. Protect yourself, don't make excuses.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
  26. Karen

    I am shocked by these comments.
    As someone who has spent significant time working in four sub-Saharan African countries, I find these sweeping generalizations very offensive.
    Poverty. Poverty limits the choices and freedoms that people have in their everday life. I have met many women forced to become prositiutes in order to keep food on the table for thier children. It is a question of survival; when someone is in desperation to keep thier family alive- certain choices are made for you.
    If my children were at risk of starvation, and my only access to money was through prosititution, I would probably do it too.
    Honestly ask yourself what you would do.
    Also ask yourself,
    Have I ever felt what starvation is like?
    Have I ever had to make a decision that literally is for survival?
    Have I ever traveled to a SubSaharan nation? Do I know what poverty really looks like?

    Maybe some of you have answered yes to these questions. If so, maybe you might realize that there is a lot more involved in life decisions than the color of ones skin.

    kwood, monroe, NY- There are several things mentioned that need to be addressed to your comment.

    1) This article didnt claim that slavery was the cause of the high AIDS rate.
    2) I agree that education is critical to personal sucess. However, your comment, "Quit whining, go to school, and get educated. If everyone else can do it, I’m sure black can do it too." is very ignorant.
    Public schools in the U.S. are not equal. Inner city schools are predominantly underfunded and overcrowded. It is a known fact that the quality of public education varies among your geographic location, therefore, if you are born into a low income family in a low income area, you will have very limited economic opportunities. Through No Child Left Behind, these inner city, underfunded institutions have been punished further by thier funding being suspended due to poor test scores (which are the result of the overcrowding).

    College is extremely expensive. For low income families to send children to college, they must obtain one of the limited scholorships, which obviously is very difficult if a student attends a poor high school.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:32 pm |
  27. em

    this is scary that the rates of infectin in a group of americans is so sad, yet another example of the american government not taking care of its own people. also a great delineation of what it really means to be a second class citizen in the US based on the color of your skin, its not a self correcting problem, its something that requires education and support to break through cultural bariers that are preventing african americans from talking about this within there own communities. it requries people continueing to strive for equality in public schools, in health care, and in socioecinomic status! HIV doesnt only effect the people infected, in effects the entire community and that includes all race, religion or creed!

    July 29, 2008 at 2:30 pm |
  28. rhonah

    Dearests,am a counsellor in TASO an AIDS Oraganisation in Uganda.Am calling on u all to get to the reality of life. Understand and accept that the epidemic is with u and work towrds preventing the spread of it thru use of preventive measures such as theABC
    strategy i.e Abstain,condom use and Faithfull.

    It is also for personnal responsibility as caution,those infected accept and seek for medication and counselling services to help you live long years like we do have examples from Uganda .For more information you can contact me on the above e-mail address.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:24 pm |
  29. jeff

    The thing I hate about statistics...depending on your data gathering techniques you can report whatever you want to report. First understand the report says basically that half of the HIV population is black. Then it goes into the cities with the highest concentrations of black people and reports numbers like 16% of the black population is infected...Well what if the same report was prepared in a largely white community..what would those numbers look like? Aside from trying to make the disease mostly a racially divided and I guess motivated diease this report does what most reports with flawed data gathering techniques do...purport lies and create erroroneous sensitivities. The guy doing the report has to do so to continue to recieve funding for his nonprofit organization...point blank... Aids is a disease, much like, emphysema or cirrhosis of the liver...its about choices...lifestyle choices. People make bad decisions and live in the consequences...the fact that the disease is contagious and can be passed from one individual to another makes it more communal than the aformemntioned diseases....but imagine if you could get emphysema from having sex with a closet smoker... would that make you more careful or more supceptible... std's can be passed with the use of a condom during sex as well as passed in other ways...aids canbe passed by "sharing needles" alot of these aids carriers are intravenous drugs users...not some black people listening to rap music and having sex with a shawty from around da way...So the drugs...and the sex...and the environment play a major role in the reported numbers of aids cases....the proponents of the human condition that play into "the NEED" ... i could go on but enough is enough...Aids is a problem for everyone...white, black, asian, latino....etc.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  30. Lj, Atlanta

    Though I feel that responsibilty is a BIG part of remaining negative, I also understand that not everyone is honest. I have a friend who is HIV positive and it wasn't because he was irresponsible. He is HIV positive because he was in love and trusted the person he was with. He didn't disclose his status and now they both are living with this disease. All of you may know someone living with HIV/AIDS and not know..So maybe you should be more sympathetic and understanding to those who may be closest to you. Not everyone is honest or willing to disclose such information about themselves..

    July 29, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  31. Kevin W

    So, as a white guy, am I supposed to feel guilty about higher HIV rates in the black community because they apparently can’t use condoms?

    With the exception of anyone that was infected by tainted blood, anyone that contracts HIV has no one to blame but themselves. If a community partakes in more unprotected sex, more drug use with needle needle sharing, etc.... then don't come crying because they have a higher HIV infection rate

    July 29, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  32. Rahni, Connecticut

    As an African-American, I DO NOT believe black people have more AIDS or HIV then any other group of people. This all Media and AMA hype! I don't have AIDS or HIV but if you listen to the media and other media outlets all the black population here in America is dying.


    July 29, 2008 at 2:00 pm |
  33. Matthew

    The hip-hop culture of African-Americans, the lack of a monogamous father figure in African-American families, the constant and unwarranted victim mentality of African-Americans, and the absolute refusal of many in the African-American community to take responsibility for their actions; those are the causes of many of the woes African-Americans face, including this HIV/AIDS issue. They've made their bed and now they must sleep in it (please pardon the pun).

    If this lesson teaches the healthy among us anything I pray that it's to think twice before entering into a sexual relationship with an African-American.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:00 pm |
  34. ISAACK

    My brothers & sisters. face the truth and stop leaving in denial.in my home country UGANDA, sex and its related STDs is taught from child hood up to univesity. when u learn how to leave +vely, you can leave for life. people have been with HIV /AIDS for 30yrs and so. remeber behavior change is the answer.

    July 29, 2008 at 1:57 pm |
  35. Patty

    Black people we have to start taking better care of ourselves.
    Yes Jesse Jackson I am talking down to our people because they need a serious wake up call!

    July 29, 2008 at 1:56 pm |
  36. JJ

    Back in the '80s when AIDS first made its debut, school-age kids were taught all about how it was contracted and to wear condoms to help prevent contracting HIV. The statistics show that AIDS incidence increased rapidly through the 1980s, peaked in the early 1990s, and then declined—all of those kids in the '80s listened and knew that HIV was out there and how to help prevent the spread.

    Then comes the wonderous age of teaching kids abstinence only. No instruction about condoms, how they can help prevent the spread of HIV and other STIs. A recent statistic says that 1 in 4 teenage girls has an STI. That is unacceptable, there is absolutely nothing wrong with teaching kids what these things are and the simple use of a CONDOM can help prevent it and that diseases spread through oral sex also.

    I remember in the '80s how parents were so upset that there were free condoms offered to teenagers, but they were using them. Better to not get pregnant, maybe not get genital herpes or HIV than to take your chances.

    Teach kids how to do it safely, they're going to try sex anyway...they may as well learn how to be responsible about it. Black, white, hispanic, asian...it doesn't matter.

    July 29, 2008 at 1:50 pm |
  37. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    I would assume that most new infections are contracted through sexual intercourse. Maybe if society didn't treat sex so casually there would not be such an epidemic. Sex is such an everyday thing, from soaps, primetime TV, billboard ads, music videos and every other form of social entertainment that people don't really think twice about it.

    Yet the consequences of sex are not given the same air time. All you hear is don’t get pregnant like we are living in the 50’s. People don’t think they can get HIV because it’s not discussed. It’s this unspoken disease still in 2008 and these statistics show exactly what that does when society keeps refusing to ignore the big elephant in the room.

    Personally I believe sex should be saved for marriage but I have even heard of married women who contracted the disease from their cheating husbands so then what? HIV tests need to become standard but then there is that problem of people not having health insurance and the stigma that comes with being HIV positive and privacy issues.

    With a disturbing epidemic like this the government defiantly needs to do something. I bet if HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of death in young white women we would be doing more than just watching that huge elephant in the room keep growing. I don’t see how government can see an epidemic of a preventable disease happening in this country and do absolutely nothing that is extremely disappointing.

    July 29, 2008 at 1:48 pm |
  38. James in PHX

    "Today in America AIDS is a Black disease"

    That line makes me sick. AIDS doesn’t care about the color of your skin! The AIDS infection rate is higher in communities that put themselves at grater risk. No amount of education will make people care more about themselves. In the black communities this is yet another byproduct on the lack of family structure. We have made it too easy on single mothers both government programs and grandparents raising their grand children and letting the parents out of their responsibilities. This promotes further generations of adults with little idea of how to be a parent because they didn’t have any examples in their life. Many are also comfortable with living on welfare so they see no reason to work on improving their life.

    Black Americans are doing this at an alarming rate while supposed “Black Leaders” tell them everything is some one else’s fault. That some one else has to help them. Like they are incapable of helping them selves.

    * I know it is not easy to be a single parent but we have made it easier to the point where young women choose to be a single mother. If you are willing to live on welfare you can do so with a few kids and live relatively well. So what is the incentive?

    July 29, 2008 at 1:45 pm |
  39. GF, Los Angeles

    I have no religious affinity but I'm shocked at the lack of morals exhibited by people in general. Especially with the amount of people who proclaim their belief in God and their church. Why is it ok that people can pick and choose what they want to believe in such as not getting an abortion because it's against God yet it's ok to have pre-marital sex and have kids out of wedlock? If you're going to say you're a Christian, Catholic or whatever – then practice the morals they're teaching you. Perhaps this is God teaching a lesson about promiscuity?

    July 29, 2008 at 1:45 pm |
  40. ACurry

    As an educated African-American woman, I am not going to say anything about many of these poorly written and downright ignorant comments many of you have posted on this board. I will say, however, how dismayed I am by CNN's timing of this report. I thought CNN was above Fox News type propaganda. I do not think it is a coincidence that just days after Soledad O'Brien's Black in America airs - causing an awakening (whether positive or negative) about the plight of Blacks in America, CNN plasters this "Blacks and AIDS" story as the feature on the website. I'm disgusted, and totally offended.

    July 29, 2008 at 1:27 pm |
  41. less

    Its a cultural thing, or thang, as the case may be.

    Perusing "Interracial Sex" online overwhelmingly returns Caucasian "blonds" taking on (a gang of) buff, do-ragged, oft only average endowed black males. Nary any Asian men on black females, Eskimos on Latinas...

    Black music from early rock-and-roll to today's (c)rap music talks about little else than doing manly stuff. If theres a white term for "being on the down low" I haven't yet heard it.

    I go to Nigeria for a year and am inundated daily with smiling offers to trade my empty paint bucket for a wife/sister/child/mother. In every corner of Africa theres strife and conflict accompanied by plenty of rape.

    Its argued that simply throwing whites' money at it will break the cycle, the very scheme the CIA cooked up to murder Africans.

    July 29, 2008 at 1:21 pm |
  42. kwood, monroe, NY

    I agree that the black community should worry about their problems and stop blaming all their problems on slavery. Quit whining, go to school, and get educated. If everyone else can do it, I'm sure black can do it too.

    July 29, 2008 at 1:10 pm |
  43. Jane

    I am continually shocked by the comments I see on these posts. After the fact, sure, it's easy to claim these people were irresponsible. But hell, they were just as unlucky.
    I'm as big an advocate as anyone for personal responsibility, but also for firstly extending my condolences; I'm so sorry for this tragic truth.

    July 29, 2008 at 1:10 pm |
  44. mIKE

    It's official. August 1, 2008 will mark nine years of no sex.

    July 29, 2008 at 1:08 pm |
  45. Cindy

    I totally agree with Bruce! The black community and really all of us need to take responsibility for our own actions. No amount of money thrown at the situation will help until people start doing that.

    And we need to stop glorifying sleeping around like it is a great thing. It isn't!!


    July 29, 2008 at 1:07 pm |
  46. Pete in CT

    Here's an idea for public service annoucement:

    Unprotected Sex = HIV-AIDS-STD's & unwanted pregnancy.
    Get it? Its not that complicated.

    July 29, 2008 at 1:02 pm |
  47. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Hasn't anyone in the black community heard of condoms? This is a self inflicted problem, just like the 50% high school dropout rate and 70% illigitimacy rate in the black community. If I set my house on fire, why should I expect the fire department to save it? Clean up your own act before you ask someone else to do it for you.

    July 29, 2008 at 12:58 pm |
  48. A

    Historically African Americans are not very health oriented. Looks at weight and diabetes.

    July 29, 2008 at 12:53 pm |
  49. Bruce

    AIDS/HIV is largely preventable by personal habits. Look at Hollywood, Black Social Habits, and the Hip Hop Culture. ALL glorifying SEX, Promiscuity, and Lack of Responsibility for Self. Sorry, I have no sympathy and don't think throwing money at cures will do as much good as quick as teaching RESPONSIBILITY!

    July 29, 2008 at 12:53 pm |
  50. Jim

    An ounce of prevention and personal responsibility is worth a pound of government cure.

    July 29, 2008 at 12:45 pm |
1 2