‘Time To Speak Out, Do Something’ About HIV Prevalence Among Southern Black Male College Students, Editorial Says
The findings of a recent study showing an increase in the number of HIV cases among black male college students demonstrate an "alarming trend" that has health officials "justifiably concerned," a Charlotte Observer editorial says, adding that it is "time to speak out and do something about it" (Charlotte Observer, 3/26). North Carolina public health officials at the 11th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in February presented the findings of a study that showed an HIV outbreak among black male college students. Researchers found six HIV cases among male college students ages 18 to 30 in 2000, 19 cases in 2001, 29 in 2002 and 30 in 2003. Of the 84 total new cases during that period, 73, or 88%, were among black men, and 11, or 13%, were among white men. Health officials say that trend identified in North Carolina likely is occurring in Georgia and throughout the South (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/17). The study "underscores the demographic shift in the HIV/AIDS population," the editorial says, noting that the epidemic previously "overwhelmingly" affected gay white men but today 39% of AIDS cases and 54% of newly reported HIV cases are among black men. In addition, black women are 23 times more likely than white women to contract the disease, according to the editorial. The problem is "exacerbated because many blacks, especially on college campuses, don't acknowledge it," the Observer says. Some black male students are "afraid to reveal their sexual orientation," and therefore behave "on the down low," by acting heterosexual and having sex with women to hide their sexual experiences with men, the editorial says. It is "mandatory that we bring these risky behaviors out of the closet and stop people from engaging in them," the editorial says, concluding, "AIDS is a killer. We all must spread the message of prevention for young people to hear" (Charlotte Observer, 3/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.