Number of New AIDS Cases Among Arkansas Blacks Rises Nearly 60% From 2000 to 2002
The number of new AIDS cases among African Americans in Arkansas increased 60% from 2000 to 2002, while the number of new cases among whites dropped about 27%, according to state Health Department statistics, the AP/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. In 2002, 131 new AIDS cases were reported among blacks, compared with 82 cases in 2000. During the same period, the number of new cases among whites dropped from 116 to 85. Although blacks represent only 15.7% of Arkansas' population, they accounted for 58.5% of the new AIDS cases reported last year, according to the AP/Democrat-Gazette. A "culture of silence" surrounding HIV/AIDS in the African-American community hinders prevention efforts, and social stigma surrounding the disease has made blacks reluctant to get tested and seek treatment, according to the AP/Democrat-Gazette. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the South has the second highest AIDS case rate in the United States behind the Northeast due to the rising number of cases among African Americans. "The epidemic has always had a disproportionate impact on African Americans in the United States," Jennifer Kates, director of HIV policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, adding, "It's just that that impact has been worsening." Elvin Jackson, pastor of the Scope Christian Fellowship Church in Little Rock, said, "Everybody assumes that somebody is handling this AIDS problem," adding, "It's down in the white community, and then the black community is still assuming that somebody's handling it. And we're going to wake up and realize that unless we handle it, it won't be handled" (Smith, AP/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 5/26).
PRI's "The World" yesterday reported on how African-born immigrants to the United States are becoming infected with HIV after arriving in the country and how "religion and stigma" within the African community influence HIV education and prevention. PRI reports that Minnesota is one of the first states to focus on the problem, which they discovered after separating the HIV/AIDS data for African Americans and African-born immigrants. The segment includes comments from Elizabeth Namarra, an HIV outreach coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Health; Somali community leader Mohammed Rashid; and Tracy Sides, an epidemiologist at MDH (Galbally, "The World," PRI, 5/27). The full segment is available online in Windows Media.