August 9th, 2008
11:10 AM ET

AIDS: The Cavalry is not coming to save us

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.


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/28/art.seele.jpg]
Editor's Note:
This morning the Black AIDS Institute released a report entitled “Left Behind! Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS Epidemic” The report praises U.S. efforts to address HIV worldwide, but criticizes what it terms a weaker response to the epidemic at home.

According to the report:

  • There are more black Americans living with HIV than the total HIV populations in seven of the 15 countries receiving PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).
  • In areas such as Detroit, Washington D.C. and the Deep South, HIV rates among segments of the black community approach those of countries in Africa.
  • If black America were its own country, it would rank 16th in people living with HIV; 105th in life expectancy and 88th in infant mortality worldwide.
  • The U.S. response to its domestic epidemic is so weak that the country would fail to qualify for its own emergency AIDS relief program.

Pernessa Seele, who founded the group Balm in Gilead to disseminate accurate information about AIDS to black churches across the U.S, shares with us her view:

Pernessa Seele
Founder/CEO, The Balm In Gilead

I lift my hat off to CNN for its series on Black In America. Having grown up in the segregated South (Lincolnville, S.C.) and now at the age of 53 living in Richmond, Virginia, I can certainly speak of some of the changes and some of the “same ole thing” that black people encounter daily in these great United States. Health care is one of those areas that I must point to as the “same ole thing”, particularly the U.S. response to HIV/AIDS among African-Americans.

The response to AIDS in Black America has been awful. The average American (black and white) can only relate to the devastating AIDS epidemic in Africa, with no clue of the horrendous suffering Black Americans are enduring right here at home. America’s response to AIDS in Africa has been billions of dollars more than its response to its black citizens at home.

As Founder/CEO of The Balm In Gilead, a non- profit organization building the capacity of faith communities to address life threatening diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, I am privileged to work in both Africa and African-American communities and witness not only the similarities of suffering but also the very unequal response and caring.

The world has been very consumed with the devastation of AIDS in Africa. Great! However, there should be a worldwide out-cry that 1 in 20 persons living in Washington, DC, our nation’s capital, is living with the AIDS virus. Over 80% of these persons living with HIV in Washington, DC, are Black Americans.

The HIV prevalence rate in Washington, DC, (5%) is fast approaching the levels of infection in Uganda (5.4%). I don’t have time to go through the list of state after state that reflect the disproportionate rate of AIDS among blacks, such as Georgia where 70% of persons living with HIV in the state are Black Americans.

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which was just passed by Congress last week, will once again deliver billions of dollars to 15 nations to address HIV prevention and treatment. Once again, GREAT!

Sadly, the rate of HIV/AIDS in Black America ranks higher than seven of those foreign countries that will receive those PEPFAR dollars in the coming months. The seven countries that have less of an HIV positive population than Black America are: Guyana, Rwanda, Haiti, Namibia, Vietnam, Botswana, and Ethiopia. Listen! There is no outcry to the suffering of Black America!

The African-American faith community is beginning to understand its essential role in addressing HIV/AIDS in Black America. As in the days of my yester years, our churches were those points of light that offered education, compassion and service to America’s darker citizens when our government’s adequate response to our needs and concerns were essentially missing.

Today, as many black churches throughout the U.S. are coming to the forefront as model programs of providing comprehensive HIV/AIDS education, testing, housing and other compassionate services, far too many continue to be silent. The vast majority of Black Americans are touched and reached weekly by the tentacles of an African-American church. Furthermore, the second largest employer of black people in America remains the African-American church.

For 19 years, The Balm In Gilead has been providing training and capacity development to our faith leaders and laity in helping churches to become sustainable community health promotion and disease prevention institutions, while engulfed in the ever-flowing stream of the Holy Spirit. At this critical moment in Black America and in public health history regarding HIV/AIDS, I invite all church leaders and members to re-dedicate themselves to the role of “leader” and seek God’s guidance in dismantling AIDS stigma and providing an adequate, effective response to HIV/AIDS in their respective communities.

When I was a child in Lincolnville, S.C., with various illnesses, my mom and I sat in “colored only” hospital waiting rooms and had to enter the doctors’ offices through the back door in order to be seen. It did not matter what time we arrived – always early in the morning – or the nature of our medical distress, we would not be seen by the doctor or the medical staff at the hospital until every white person had been served that day.

Waiting was the life of black folks when I was a child, particularly in areas of health and medicine. Today, Black Americans are still waiting for adequate health care and an appropriate response to its suffering regarding HIV/AIDS. However, the waiting is much longer! The world is in front of us!! It appears that the U.S. Cavalry is not coming to save us.

We must depend on ourselves! Every Black church in America is needed and required!

Filed under: Black in America • Pernessa Seele
soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. Jim S,

    Its apparent CNN cannot post views that are simple common sense
    Like Test,Quarentine those infected & do not do things that will put you in danger of catching or spreading the disease. This is the third time I post – the other 2 were deleated

    July 30, 2008 at 12:10 am |
  2. A

    Where is the church and school in this discussion? We used to have values and would discuss social issues in the church. During 9/11 the churches were filled to counteract terrorism, let's see if we can fill them to counteract AIDS. In addition, if people won't tell others to use condoms, we should support the school telling people.

    July 29, 2008 at 11:57 pm |
  3. Davy

    Why is that we don't look back and see how the past history of our country when it pertains to Whites and Blacks with HIV/AIDS. It is shame that history repeated it self with illegal drug movement in our country were black people were used to push the drugs in their own communities. There are a lot of figures here poverty, homelessness, drugs, prostitution, crime, which are all risky behaviors that can lead to HIV/AIDS, murder, prison, and etc. This still makes me ponder that why are monies going to other countries than its own. Blacks were attacked mentally and physically before they have arrived to America. When will we stop pointing fingers and find solutions I charge anyone who reads this blog to step up and become educated on the disease it has no color nor does it discriminate it just that through the system that has been put in place that blacks have been blind sided. And there are some black churches, white churches, and other churches are involved with the HIV/AIDS fight. I 'm calling out those within the"Body of Christ" and America to step up and except your place in eradicating HIV/AIDS by taking it head on! I pray that God will continue to condition your hearts and minds to become more like him with compassion and His love. Pernessa it is always a pleasure to see you do your God given purpose in this world we live in.

    God Bless

    July 29, 2008 at 11:10 pm |
  4. Toni Walker

    It is evident that the calvary is not coming. That's the history of Blacks, Negroes, African-Americans in America. If the calvary comes, beware!

    I am a recovering addict and an aspiring missionary. I am not a "black church", but I would welcome any form of capacity building. I have a nonprofit and a ministry. I conduct outreach with sexworkers in South LA. Most of this target population is not going to spend time sitting in an agency to get tested, or travel to a clinic or somewhere to get free condoms. Even the motels where they conduct business charge for condoms.

    Although I am saved, I strongly believe that it is necessary to keep those women "safe" until we can get them saved. When I was in my addiction, you could count on one hand the people or organizations that gave a hoot., if that many.

    Why would we, African-Americans, expect the same country that has held us in mental, financial, physical and spiritual bondage to care if we live or die, especially since we are not the "minority of choice" at this time?

    July 29, 2008 at 10:48 pm |
  5. cat In kansas

    This will not help.I have been told by a few from the black community that they were born to breed, Party,rob and murder if thats what it took to support what they were doing.They laughed and said they didnt have to work cause the white man was working to take care of them.I know familys that live in apartments and only pay $1 rent a month because they have so many kids.The kids run around in dirty clothes with bug bites all over them,they are already stealing even tho they are just young children because there mother is more worried about getting a new weave and her nails done to catch the next babies daddys she has planned.This is so sad for the kids but it is from kids raising kids.The black community should take care of there own.Stop trying to blame it on the whites and take some blame yourself!

    July 29, 2008 at 9:47 pm |
  6. carla

    After reading you report on aids in black america, i found it very hard to swallow. i know that aids is on the rise in black americans. however, i am curious to know the percentage of aids in non black americans, preferabally white americans. my first question is how many white americans, versus black americans are being tested for hiv/.aids. if more black people are being tested than of course the number will be higher in blacks. black americans and their negative publicity on hiv/aids and other incriminating statistics are so blown up in the media. this, in my opinion is one of the many reason why some blacks are looked down upon in society as if blacks are a disease. i would like to see stats on how many white americans are being tested for hiv/aids vs black americans. the percentage of blacks in america is only 12-18%. what is the percentage of hiv/aids in the remaining 80-90% non black americans?

    July 29, 2008 at 9:35 pm |
  7. Stan

    The education and prevention is out there, people have to just read and tap into it. Today there is no excuse for contracting HIV thru sex. As a nurse I am saddened by the many women being admitted to the hospital infected with HIV. Most of them have been monogamous with their partners however their partners have not and have passed it on to them. Marriage is not a definite guarantee that AIDS will not happen to you. Many young adults have the attitude that "it wont happen to me". I think research needs to be geared more towards a rapid HIV test that can be bought over the counter, and results can be immediately read at home. The ones on the market require at least a week to get the results. We as people need to not get "caught up in the moment" and use protection. No one is going to protect us except ourselves.

    July 29, 2008 at 9:12 pm |
  8. Marie

    The answer to preventing AIDS for the most part is simple. Stop participating in unprotected sex with multiple partners and stop taking IV drugs. How much money does it take to get that message across? Sorry no sympathy here.

    July 29, 2008 at 9:06 pm |
  9. Richard from VA

    I believe that Ms. Seele's points are to be recognized and valued. Although we may have a decline in our economy this does not cause a need for a decline in the African American race. AIDS has become a pandemic in the black Community and as momma always says "You have to take care of home first".

    July 29, 2008 at 8:47 pm |
  10. Mark

    It's not all about better environments. Being poor does have it's share of problems but can we say poor people in this country are so isolated out of touch with the rest of society in general that they can not go to get free information from health programs in their community or watch informing TV programs or rub shoulders with informed people at work, in everyday settings? Come on this, we have poor people in this country and all over the world- white, black, yellow. We all sympathize with victims of rape. it is sad that these things happen.

    July 29, 2008 at 8:07 pm |
  11. er

    Why do people(white and black) always point the finger at others?
    She never blame the government for infecting the Black Americans with AIDS/HIV, she is only asking why is there little help with the AIDS/HIV disease problem that we have in this country.

    Also why shouldn't the goverment help with this issue? I know if the stock market start to fall, the government would interfer with that situation. Why because of money coming out there pockets? Look, money runs this country, not spending money on something that is not going to make money, but spending money on such things like this war is great because big companies and people in the government are making money off of it. "OIL" That is for people who did not understand.

    July 29, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  12. Katherine Biel

    I'm tired of hearing about accountability from people in much better environments. Most people have sex, a significant number of innocents are deceived, or even raped. If any of these 'blamers' lived in an AIDS hotspot as a black person, it would be an interesting experiment to see how many of them wind up with AIDS.

    Face it, the human environment is getting worse. If we don't participate in helping others, it will eventually effect us all. That Republican statement of accountability is trite and superficial.

    July 29, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  13. Rusty

    Yet another article from CNN about how tragic it is to be Black and, yes, how oppressive White people must be.

    Congrats, CNN... for creating more problems than you solve.

    July 29, 2008 at 6:47 pm |
  14. Steffon

    Maybe I'm 'not getting it', but as a Black American I can speak on this...how about black folks:

    1) stop denying there are homosexual men in Black America;

    2) stop denying that there are Black women that, frankly, don't make good decisions about sex (like having sex with men that cycle in and out of jail UNPROTECTED);

    3) realize that since they've started screening donated blood, the main reason people get HIV/AIDS is by not practicing safe sex and sharing needles.

    Blaming the government for individual stupid decisions on sex and sharing needles won't solve anything. I've seen the public service announcements on t.v., heard them on the radio and seen the billboards. I knew since 1983 not to have sex with a woman unprotected, and if she WANTED sex without a condom, not to have sex with her at all.

    It was called 'grown up decision making'. Maybe we, as a race, need to grow up.

    July 29, 2008 at 6:43 pm |
  15. T

    I have not been able to give blood due to the AIDS out break and policies that have not kept up with the blood supply. It has been said that is it ok to say if you are gay to not give boold but not if you are black why is that ok?

    July 29, 2008 at 6:39 pm |
  16. Tomi

    Start with personal responsibility. Why is it that black organizations seem incessant on playing the victim card – why isn't the government doing something for ME?

    Look at the country of Uganda: from 1986 to 2000, the HIV rate dropped precipitously from 30 % to 6%. The government along with faith based organizations banded together to pormote the ABC campaign. A-Abstinence, B-Be faithful, and (if these did not work), C-use Condoms. It worked because people took personal responsibility for their sexual behavior.

    HIV is not a black "disease" in this country or another other country. Race has nothing to do with it. Sexual behavior is the key, or to put it another way, the value of family (two parents) present to support and and rear children, and respect for one another, seems to underlie the motivation and the sense of responsibility to avoid HIV, just another STD, though with deadly consequences.

    Presently, the PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), as one commentary wrote, is ill advised, because condoms are pushed as its foundational thrust, rather than Abstinence. Ugandan leaders are trying to persuade this country not to get PEPFAR involved in their country, believing that the HIV/AIDS campaign has merely morphed into a condom promoting business, now more about money rather than focusing on people's behavior.

    Ideas and facts to consider. Yet, begin with personal responsibility.

    July 29, 2008 at 6:09 pm |
  17. Jessica

    So what are the risks for those of us who prefer interracial relationships? Are we more at-risk for this than if we dated within our own race?

    July 29, 2008 at 6:09 pm |
  18. Barbara Osborne

    I think part of the blame has to go to the black community for not being open about this epidemic. I believe the government is being sensitive to what may appear to be the reluctance of the black community to address this issue too publicly and feel in the "spotlight" for something that feels so negative. I know that I would rather see our dollars going to Americans first but I wasn't aware of how deep the AIDS/HIV problem was in the black community. Also, where has the press been in reporting this issue? Again, I get this feeling that many white people/back people in the positions of authority who had the ability to make the country aware of it were shying away from the issue

    July 29, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  19. stan

    Kinda' like playing Russian Roulette... If you CHOOSE to play.... you may LOOSE!!! Don't count on the government to PROTECT yourselves from everything... Personal choices and other forms of protection is all that's necessary....Have PITY on KIDS with Cancer... Not LOSERS!!!

    July 29, 2008 at 5:48 pm |
  20. Mark

    "Compassion" has its place in society. But one needs to avoid all ways trying to excuse matters or being overly sentiment when they need to be honest and address the problem. Problems are usually not resolved when no one wants to address the root problem and deal with it. Each day we have to make judgement calls in life. Saying we should not judge matters is not correct. It can be done in a tactful way but still being firm. We do that every day- what movie or music I will listen to or watch; do I want my children to associate with certain kids in the community who might influence them wrongly. We constantly are making judgement calls or choices each day. Humans were created to reason and evaluate matters clearly- to figure things out. That's what sets us apart from the animals kingdom. So why are people choosing not to use it?
    Of course there are some persons out there who are true victims in life through no fault on their own. But we are talking about a moral issue -in this 21st century. A problem that is not beyond ones ability to make the right choice. Taking Responsibility! Some don't like to take it and others just live for the moment. Sadly, this will always result in problems. That is life.

    July 29, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  21. Jen in Mississippi

    When I lived in Canada my doctor did not want to give me an AIDS test because I was a white woman fraternizing with white men – meaning my risk was so low as to be neglible.

    I think a lot of white people are not necessarily racist but are tired of getting blamed for all this crap. A blog is the only place you can say something like "take responsibility for yourself" in our new politically correct world.

    It isn't pc to say, "hey, why do you have five kids and five fathers?" "Why don't you have a job / education?" "Why do you dress like a thug?" "Why can't / won't you speak understandable English?" Please note – this is NOT restricted to black people

    Maybe if we weren't so afraid to express disapproval for this country-weakening behavior, it wouldn't be so ok. And so prevalent.

    July 29, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  22. BH

    The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black America is very alarming and disgraceful at the same time. Black men and women must hold themselves accountable for their reckless, sinful lifestyles that are putting a great segment of Americans in serious danger. Young black women must stop playing the whore for every Tom, Jim, and Jerry and start demanding respect and a lifelong marriage commitment before they have sex. Gay black men must admit that their lifestyle is abominable and immoral, turn from it, and seek God for complete deliverance. This horrible "try it before you buy it" mentality among heterosexual blacks is the number one reason 70% of black children are born out of wedlock and 66% of black women(ages 25-34) are contracting HIV/AIDS. Black America, stop playing church and get right with God FOR REAL!!!!!

    July 29, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  23. Bill H.

    To Dee – just because you were a “former Volunteer AIDS Counselor” does not mean that the excuses you provided in your post are justification for reckless, irresponsible behavior in people who conveniently default to ignorance or lack of trust in the medical profession.

    Everybody’s a victim and everyone has an excuse for their self-inflicted problems. But your request for “compassion” is only a liberal feel-good response, for it is useless and a waste of time if self discipline and personal responsibility are not part of the equation.

    I have plenty of sincere “compassion” for people who contracted this terrible disease; it would be great if we had a sure-fire cure on how to treat it, and especially how to prevent it. However, I would also love to see every child in this country raised by a loving, devoted, caring, married MOTHER AND FATHER, but neither I nor the federal government can prevent people from reproducing without concern for the future.

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t demand that people mind their own business and refrain from judging others – especially when it affects our tax liability – and turn around and also demand that we all show compassion for people who continue to participate in reckless, selfish, foolish behavior.

    I refuse to sit by quietly or feel guilty about voicing my opinion about the self-inflicted, irresponsible actions of people who are now looking for the federal government to once again pick up the pieces caused by their carelessness.

    July 29, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  24. Alex

    This whole Being Black in America has turned into a big point the finger. If your life is screwed up it's your own damn fault for not having the courage, dignity, fortitude and common sense to do something about it. I grew up in a poor Hispanic family. Both my parents worked two jobs because they wanted something better for their kids. Yea they could have taken the easy way and gone on welfare but that would have taught me and my siblings nothing. Due to their efforts I am a successful young man with a successful wife and a daughter who will also succeed. All this because my parents had some self respect and dignity. Minorities in general need to stop expecting the govt. to hand them everything on a silver platter. Is there still racism in America yes but please get over the fact that your grandparents were treated unfairly, stop living in the past, instead look towards the future.

    July 29, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  25. Kokayi Salim

    Ms. Seele, thank you for doing what too many people are unwilling to do in this country, TELL THE TRUTH. Like with many of this society's ill's there is a tendency (and I would go so far as to say need) to disregard the connections between racism (which is ever present) and the glaring disparities in countless social/community issues. In the USA, healthcare has always been inadequate for people of African descent. It's unfortunate that the "Woman from SC" is so misinformed. The masses of Blacks in America can not "get medical care just as easily as anyone else in America. In addition to the disparate numbers of diseases (particularly HIV/AIDS) that plague Black communities, there seems to be a mask of conciliation through which too many peer into a false hope and false intent toward resolve. As you mentioned, NO ONE is coming to save us. The arrogance and backwardness in such statements as "the government is not forcing anyone in 'Black America' to have unprotected sex" is a ridiculous diversion from what's important; HIV/AIDS is affecting too many people of African descent living in this country, disproportionate to its affects on ANY other "racial" group. The disease is killing too many and it is spreading with too small a collective effort to prevent it from spreading any further. I remember in the early 90's making a clarion call here in Richmond, VA. for community action regarding HIV/AIDS (which had already reached pandemic proportions). Sadly the response was clouded with conspiracy theories, false propaganda and traditional conditioning (sometimes confused as values) that led to stifling inactivity. Today there are incessant organizations like The Balm In Gilead that are "on the front lines;" organizing, educating, motivating and provoking thought/change. Yet too few of our people are involved in/supporting those organizations. If you do not like the message or programs of Ms. Seele's organization then either join a different one, take responsibility to create the vehicle through which we can resolve this world crisis or be quiet! I think the "Black Church" is in the best position to reach the masses of Black people and really affect collective attitudes and behavior. Keep moving forward!

    July 29, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  26. EJ (USA)

    Maybe CNN should just start a separate website called "Bash the Black Race." I'm sure many of you will wake up bright and early each morning to post more nasty, arrogant, and condescending thoughts.

    I see people here constantly making up arguments and moaning and groaning about something that few, if any, black people have said – and then they go on to argue over those half-made up topics as if most of black America is on this website crying out for white CNN bloggers to feel sorry for them.

    July 29, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  27. Peter

    Everyone–please set aside your own thoughts about the causes of AIDS and who has or has not acted responsibilty–and read the posts from Duane....and more indirectly from Player.

    Duane's community is letting him down. And Player is highlighting why.

    Can we just stop for a second and comprehend Duane's situation?
    Can we see straight up that Pernessa is asking black churches to get over their own issues and help repair their community?
    Can we accept Player's points for it's brutal honesty?

    Can we stop talking about how this disease came to be....and just acknowledge the experience for what it is?

    July 29, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  28. dee

    i hope they never find a vaccine if they do there will never be a cure. easy to say self inflicted ....men lie i am seeing lots of white women with it now as well...what happens in nyc,miami and dc eventually gets to the rest of the nation...it goes hand in hand with sub abuse and yes alcohol related poor decisions.when more and more have it will be easier to get...when your kid,friend,lover makes a poor decision it should not be forever. they could figure it out if they spent what they spent in iraq...Bush is the sorriest president in history!!!!help here in us now

    July 29, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  29. parnell

    correction to previous post. "One hundred percent..."

    July 29, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  30. john

    Blacks who try to blame whites are playing a worthless game.white people dont care enough anymore to be blackmailed for your bad behavior.

    July 29, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  31. parnell

    FACT: One hundred of pregnant women screened for the "HIV/AIDS" virus will test positive. Go ahead, test this on a "clean" friend or family member. Unless they belong to a certain demographic, most clinics will deny them the screening for this dreaded 'disease.'

    July 29, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  32. April

    I'm just wondering at what point "Black America" is going to stop whining and begin to correct some of the ills plaguing their "community?"

    It shouldn't have to be pointed out that AIDS is not cancer; It's not random and it's quite preventable. If we want to be fair, and there's an insinuation that we are _not _, we'd spend our time and resources on medical conditions that could strike _any_ person, not just those who choose to indulge in certain behaviors.

    To suggest that "Black America" is receiving a disproportionate amount of charity in this country is ridiculous. Shall we cut out some of the money being pumped into the welfare system or the prison system and designate it instead for AIDS prevention? Fine, but "Black America" is already getting its share of taxpayer money, for sure, and it's to the point that I and others are tired of being asked for more money to be put toward dealing with a community in which behavioral problems are the norm. For some people, the handout will never be big enough.

    What's more, the statistics being thrown around to support every way in which African-Americans can consider themselves disadvantaged can and should have the opposite effect, too. One should look at these numbers and also consider what's wrong with this group of people that they can't take care of themselves and their problems? Why are so many of them poor? Why are so many of them in jail? Why do so many of them lack an education? If you truly have no idea why this is, spend a day or two in a low income black-dominated urban area and see what's going on. Go see how people are spending their time and then ask yourself these questions again. All the while, keep in mind that taxpayer money is being used to support these lifestyles, many of which are _bound_ to end badly because they are so deeply flawed.

    Please, CNN, enough about "Black America." It's just one more forum for people to feel sorry for themselves and lay blame on others for their supposed plight. Being black needs to stop being an excuse for bad behavior that leads to poverty, crime, AIDS, etc. or nothing will ever change.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  33. John Donohue

    I think it's common knowledge that two monkeys in Africa started this problem.

    Where are they and why are they not being held accountable?

    July 29, 2008 at 3:41 pm |
  34. Jim

    Just elect Obama. He will save us all from everything that menaces the USA. And, since we will have elected a black man as president, RACISM WILL NOW BE DEAD IN AMERICA.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:40 pm |
  35. Mark

    I really appreciate the blogger's comment- Shell. Your statements were right about choices. You can chose to be ignorant and go around making ignorant decisions or you can simply be an informed person. READ, READ, READ, AND READ. There are books and information out there to make an informed decision on matters. More importantly, there is the Bible. I know some think it is old fashion and out of date for our modern times. But I along with over 7 million can attest its principles work in this 21st century. It can help us make wise decisions by giving one THINKING ABILITY, DISCERNMENT, INSIGHT< KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING, AND WISDOM. The importance of Wisdom is the ability to use or apply the knowledge we learn to help us made wise choices. So at least give it a try. Speak with those who come around in your community and offer free Bible study courses. They will be happy to help. Choosing to remain ignorant in this world is a terrible choice. This is not the way to live

    July 29, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  36. zay, fl

    The article is very interesting, but I am in agree with some previous post we as african americans must take ownership of hour health, and lives. If no sex is too much, protected sex should be the option. We must educate our children at early ages, instill the knowlege of sex, the good as well as the bad.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  37. Devilbob

    Throwing money at the problem is not going to make it go away here or in Africa. A 2007 documentary "The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo" showed stomach churningly large groups of women who were raped by soldiers in the congo. Many of these women were infected with the HIV virus during these rapes. [ HIV infection is actually not that horrible when compared to some of the other tortures inflicted during the attacks– watch the film if you can]. There is a cultural mindset among the men that it is their right to take the women to satisfy their "needs". Condoms and clinics are just a superficial dressing on a wound which is spreading. Until there is an actual cultural shift that spawns understanding and does away with superstition and misogyny then it's a lost cause.

    Here in the U.S. were not much better off. Young men, black and white, are proving themselves by having sex with as many women as they can. The result, is 2 fold. You have a bunch of children making more children who are likely to remain trapped in this cycle of ignorance. You have have generations of women who are objectified by men and accept that role. You couldn't ask for a better breeding ground for STD's.

    I too am from the Richmond, VA area and don't recall having heard of Balm of Gilead. The article seemed to list some vague complaints. Perhaps if Ms. Seele had listed some specific complaints with realistic solutions she might see some involvement from the federal and state government. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. What this nation needs is a solid plan.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  38. Lance

    Wow I thought aids was an American problem. As long as Ms.Seele and other "black leaders" want to segregate themselves from the rest of the American population don't expect too much empathy or money for your cause. When we look at a problem as Americans it is amazing what we can get resolved. Continue to divide issues along racial lines and the only effect is hatred but what would a German/Dutch/English/Irish American know.Advice for all Americans if you aint married keep it in your pants,if the doctor didn't order it don't stick it in your arm, and most important say a prayer for all who suffer from Aids/HIV in America and elsewhere no matter their skin color

    July 29, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  39. JGA

    When you were in school I am sure you received a pencil and paper. Your teacher likely held your hand while you learned to write. But you are the one who ultimate learned what to do. There are many many unsung 'Cavalry' that have come to the aid of AIDS victims. That would be the scientific community. the medical community, church groups (yes!!) and don't forget Princess Diana. So why are you not helping yourself? Use a condom, and stop doing IV drugs.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  40. Angel

    I think it is important to talk about this issue, but the recent media on this makes it seem as it is a HUGE epedemic and plague in the community. According to the CDC there are 185,988 blacks living with AIDS in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. That is out of over 36 million Black People!

    I feel very blessed that this disease has not struck my family. Breast Cancer is what I am scared most of. Cancer is the # 1 one killer in my family. Lets talk about that.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  41. Sorrel

    Ignorance runs rampant, there is a need to understand all of the issues/ factors that make a disease prevalent in a particular race before you degrade, and reduce a group of people to less than second-class citizens. To say that blacks by and large are not being responsible and that is why the disease is spreading is like saying "people" with __________ fill in the blank are responsible for their condition.

    Now while a more concerted effort has to be put forward to suppress the number of new aids cases in the black community, this is one time when nature while intending to help a group of people may have also hindered it.

    A gene found only in people of African ancestry which evolved to prevent malaria infection now increases the odds of contracting AIDS by up to 40 percent, a new study has found.

    The gene does; however, seem to protect against the progression of the disease, allowing those carrying it to live about two years longer.

    Lets be informed and once informed do something about it.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  42. Lisa

    Too many black women wanting babies and not making their men wear condoms. That's why AIDS runs rampant in the black community.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  43. Dan Wilson

    It is our own person responsiblity, all of us, to take precautionary measaures in order to protect ourselves. Having said that, the spreading of Aids can be provented by taking some simple protective steps that are well known. The fact is if a person chooses to take no proventive measures and engages in risky activities, whatever they may be, then responsibility falls on that individual and they should be held responsible for thier own actions. I am not insensative to the issue however, Black Aids awareness is not the answer, practicing prevention is. No one can make you do it, you have to do it for yourself. Don't blame the government or anyone else, we all must take responsibility for our own actions or inaction, whatever the case may be.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  44. parnell

    No disrespect to anyone reading this blog, but if you rely totally on mainstream media for your education, then you ARE ignorant. I've taken the liberty throughout my educational experience to thoroughly research this topic and will shed some FACTS with you all.

    First HIV/AIDS is NOT a disease you catch; people don't succumb from a 'virus' called HIV. Instead the concoction of drugs render their immune system helpless to any and all pathogens.

    Secondly, most of you readers cannot handle this one so brace yourselves. A government patent was issued to the United States Armed Forces back in the early seventies for a new biological weapon of mass descruction, which later after 'voluntary' testing in certain third world countries, and economically challenged areas of Amerika, was named Human Immunodeficiency Virus in the early eighties.

    Third, every single person reading this will test positive for the antibodies for HIV/AIDS. I guarantee this fact. So no one is truly educated on HIV/AIDS if they depend on handouts from the mass media instead of doing long hours of research and study. There are forces at work in this great land of ours and you are all powerless to defend yourselves unless you wake up and smell the coffee.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  45. M. Ryan

    I am amazed at the responses here. Many of you should be ashamed by the undertones of racism and the biggot attitudes displayed by your coments. In the year 2008, do you really believe that HIV is a race issue? Or an issue of economics? You blame blacks, or gays, or drug addicts. Ignorance. Please don't begin to judge others for something that you are incapable of understanding yourselves. It matters not that your white, black, asian....gay, straight...wealthy or poor. Because we all came from different backgrounds and those are infinately variable, you could not understand, and no one DESERVES an illness such as HIV, just like smokers do not DESERVE lung cancer. What people deserve, regardless of other issues in thier lives, is compassion. This is a human disease. Are your ideas about HIV so ignorant that you think it only happens to "certain" people.
    You would be wrong, and your thoughts outdated.
    I am niether black , nor gay, nor foriegn. I am a red-blooded, white, 39 year old, mid-western, male, american, and I have empathy for anyone who has this terrible condition, regardless of the action that lead to it. I feel pain in my heart for all who need healing, and I feel terribly for those who think they are in a position to judge another.
    Are you so clean?
    Look deeply in the mirror, write your soul down word for word, then ask yourself how clean you are. Then pray to whatever God you worship.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  46. Dee

    I find it sad that no one has put this into a historical context and you all seem to be blaming those who have contracted HIV, black or white, but especially black. To suggest that these people got what they deserved or that it's their fault is disgusting. As a formed volunteer AIDS counselor, here's my take on it.

    Blacks, Hispanics, and other minority groups have HISTORICALLY had distrust for the medical profession. This is not something people just conjured up; As far back as the Tuskegee Experiments, minorities have understood that the medical profession did not value their lives as much as whites. Like it or not, there has been a pattern of lack of and low quality health care in minority communities just like the lack of education and quality schools. Many of you keep hammering education without considering that kids are sitting in freezing classes, with leaking roofs, non-working bathrooms, sub-standard books, underpaid teachers etc. This is not the fault of the child, but it certainly does not foster a productive learning environment.

    More importantly, responsibility is always the first step in self-improvement, but this is an action that is learned. A teen who has not learned the full meaning of personal responsibility and not yet fully discovered that for every action there is a reaction, can find themselves condemned to death for one indiscretion. Women in long term relationships who are being told that their HUSBANDS are faithful and have every reason to believe they are in monogamous relationships are discovering they have been lied to and are now marked for death by the same people who claimed they loved them.
    Most individuals who contract this disease are not just reckless and irresponsible. If you don't believe that the culture of white supremacy in this country, and especially in its medical and educational institutions plays a part in rising rates of AIDS in minorities, you should get informed! Reagan disregarded AIDS in the 80's (HAD TO BE FORCED TO EVEN MENTION IT) and we witnessed scores of gay men and IV drug users perish because no one thought they were WORTH anything. It is no different now. No one thinks minorities are worth the effort, and self-hate is evident. You have to care about yourself to worry about AIDS and whether you have it, don't, or are at risk. If you live in a society that tells you aren't worth justice or fairness, eventually you believe it and you convince yourself of it. The AIDS epidemic has to do primarily with lack of love, for SELF and FROM others.

    You should all take a look at the Book of Matthew Ch. 25.....stop being so judgmental based on your on narrow experience and have some compassion for those in need regardless of their color or where they live.

    July 29, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  47. Bill H.

    Ah, the price of freedom.

    The federal government is responsible for protecting us by ensuring that our rights to freedom are maintained, as per the constitution.

    I don't believe for one second that this administration is deliberately ignoring or denying treatment to those US citizens affected by this horrific disease. And to imply that since 50% of AIDS sufferers are black is proof is just plain ignorant.

    However, the cause, actions and irresponsibility of those who exercise their right to freedom by participating in risky, unprotected, reckless sex – with multiple partners – is not something the federal government can, or should, regulate.

    The illegitimacy rate in the black community in the US is 70%; it's 25%for whites. What that means is that "responsible" people choose their mates wisely. Sex without a commitment is more than risky behavior; it results in children raised in single parent homes; single parents sleeping around with different mates; illegitimate children raised in an environment without stability and guidance, primed to repeat the horrid cycle of sex without love and commitment.

    Then there are people who vow to remain single and pledge to copulate with as many members of the opposite sex that will have them.

    And you and I have every RIGHT in this country to sleep with whomever we want; with or without protection or concern about an unwanted pregnancy.

    Actions have consequences and freedom is not cheap. All the safe sex training and marketing ads will not stop people from having unsafe, unprotected sex.

    AIDS will kill you. Participating in unprotected, reckless sex with multiple partners is like playing Russian Roulette. I have little sympathy for ignorant people who don't take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

    I have even less sympathy for people who actually believe that the federal government is somehow responsible for protecting you from your own stupidity.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  48. jamie

    i have sympathy for anyone, of any race, that has this horrible disease. but, at least since about 1990, it has been common knowledge how it is transmitted.l; you would have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the dangers of unprotected sex and sharing needles. the blood transfusion issue is over, and so, everyone has to be responsible for their own well being. if a white person tells you to stick a needle in your arm, just say no. same thing goes for unprotected sex. stop into planned parenthood and get some condoms. stop sticking needles into your body. grow up and realize that the problem and the solution begins with each individual.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  49. Annon

    HIV and AIDS education are trumpeted as the needed remedy. But ask yourself what people in America still need to be educated on. If you were to ask people on the streets who the 10th US president was, you would get blank looks. Ask an average person how a person contracts HIV and he/she can tell you. The public already knows how NOT to get HIV. What 'education' is still needed, and how will telling people what they already know help them?

    I think they need to use what information they already have!

    July 29, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  50. Detroit

    We help Africa because education makes a difference there. We have so much education, information and clinics here, but being a black man growing up in the ghetto and ridiculed endlessly for valuing education and morals, I think what has to change is the average low income black person's thinking of what is acceptable. I was ridiculed for not 'getting any action' and believing in the sanctity of marriage, ridiculed for valuing my education and ridiculed for not being interested in doing drugs. The low income black community will not advance until it chooses to realize that being educated and productive is a good a thing instead of spreading the word and the disease that all forms of non-productivity is the acceptable norm. Stop expecting handouts and be proactive about fixing the problems instead of waiting for the cavalry. Bring yourself to succeed instead of being parasites.

    July 29, 2008 at 2:48 pm |
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