Minorities ‘Taking Biggest Hit’ in U.S. HIV/AIDS Epidemic, Especially Black Women, Opinion Piece Says
Although HIV/AIDS experts "see a disease worming its way deeper into racial and ethnic populations," their "warnings don't elicit quite the desired response from those at high risk," including minority communities in the United States that are "taking the biggest hit," Laura Ofobike, chief editorial writer for the Akron Beacon Journal, writes in an opinion piece. Ofobike cites a "sobering" New York Times article published on Monday that said that black women face a greater risk of infection than other women and that their risk is "growing, in spite of all that we've learned about HIV/AIDS in the past 20 years" (Ofobike, Akron Beacon Journal, 4/6). The Times article said that black women are 23 times more likely to be HIV-positive than white women, according to government studies using data from 29 states. Some observers say that the increase in the number of HIV cases linked to heterosexual sex among black women stems from men on the "down low," an expression that describes black men who have sex with men but who never mention their male relationships to their female sex partners, friends or family members (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/5). Ofobike says that one influential factor is that there "is a shortage of marriageable black men in stable, long-term relationships with women" because of high rates of imprisonment, poor education and unemployment. Ofobike notes that President Bush in his fiscal year 2005 budget proposal asked for $1.5 billion for an initiative to promote "healthy marriages for women on welfare." She concludes, "If marriage is part antidote to the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, then we need help on a much larger scale, and sooner. The best marriage support begins with equitable education opportunities, good employment prospects and policies that keep more black men out of prisons and at home" (Akron Beacon Journal, 4/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.