‘Quiet Scourge’ of AIDS in African-American Communities Not Getting Enough Attention, Columnist Says
"The AIDS virus is surging like a prairie fire through black communities in the United States," New York Times columnist Bob Herbert writes in his "In America" column. "Nothing less than a mighty chorus is needed to cope with this overwhelming tragedy," he says, adding it should be "a chorus comparable in its seriousness of purpose to the civil rights movement." AIDS has become the leading cause of death among African-American males ages 25 to 44, and the CDC now estimates that one in 50 black men is infected with HIV, according to Herbert. Black women are also being infected at a "frightening rate," he writes, as they account for 64% of all new infections among women. "Alarms should be clanging" nationwide, he continues, calling the "idea that black Americans would submit quietly to this level of devastation from AIDS ... repellent." Herbert notes that "myriad factors" contribute to the spread of HIV in the African-American community. He cites "widespread denial," partly because of the "powerful stigmas" attached to AIDS, IV drug use and homosexuality, as well as a lack of information about the disease, particularly among the youth who feel they are "invulnerable." Herbert notes that the high rate of other STDs among blacks has helped "fuel" the spread of HIV. Many blacks "lack access" to health information, preventive services and treatment "once they fall ill." Herbert concludes bThis is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.