Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Features on HIV/AIDS Among Blacks in United States
Several newspapers this week published features on HIV/AIDS among blacks in the United States to coincide with the opening of the XV International AIDS Conference taking place this week in Bangkok, Thailand. Summaries of the features appear below:
- "AIDS: Darkening in America," U.S. News & World Report: U.S. News & World Report on Monday profiled Black AIDS Institute Founder Phill Wilson. Although the development of effective antiretroviral therapy in 1996 caused a shift in the perception of HIV/AIDS from an epidemic of young, white, gay men, to an epidemic centered on Africa, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe, the "constant epidemic in people of color" -- which is "having a devastating effect in black communities" in the United States -- has been "ignored," Wilson said. Over the last five years, Wilson has worked to obtain support from civil rights leaders, the black media, seven black fraternities and sororities and historically black colleges and universities to make HIV/AIDS education a priority. According to Wilson, individuals and local organizations must "bridge the gap" between the "overwhelmingly white" medical community and the "increasingly black" HIV community, adding, "We are faced with the worst health disaster that our community has seen in the last century. What I do is ordinary. It's only extraordinary because we're not all doing it" (Brink, U.S. News & World Report, 7/12).
- "Black Church Has Vital Role in Fighting AIDS," Chicago Tribune: HIV/AIDS is a "reality about which everybody needs to be concerned," and African-American churches are starting HIV/AIDS prevention programs "not a moment too soon," the Tribune reports. Although black churches historically have avoided addressing HIV/AIDS or issues of sexuality, HIV/AIDS education and outreach is "particularly important" in light of recent studies showing an increase in HIV incidence among black male college students. Trinity United Church of Christ's HIV/AIDS ministry, which started in 1992, includes workshops on prevention, treatment options and living with HIV/AIDS, as well as a youth sexuality project that includes HIV/AIDS education (Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune, 7/12).
- "Danger on the Down Low," Houston Chronicle: African-American women who remain faithful to their sexual partners and have no history of injection drug use but who contract HIV from their husbands or boyfriends are "part of a troubling trend" in new HIV infections, the Chronicle reports. 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" -- black men who have sex with men but do not mention their male relationships to their female sex partners, friends or family members -- but researchers do not know whether the phenomenon is to blame. CDC spokesperson Karlie Stanton said that although researchers know the phenomenon is a factor, "we don't know how big a factor it is" (Kever, Houston Chronicle, 7/10).
- "HIV Alarm for Mid-Age Blacks," New York Post: An increasing number of black men between the ages of 40 and 54 are testing HIV-positive, according to a study by New York City health officials presented Monday at the conference. City officials, who began collecting and reporting data on HIV in 2000, found that out of the more than 75,000 HIV-positive people in the city, one in 15 is a black middle-aged man and one in 10 is foreign-born, primarily in the Caribbean, Africa or South America. Of the city's 11,039 black, middle-aged, HIV-positive men, 1,523 men had developed AIDS at the time of diagnosis, which city scientists said indicates that many were "long infected but not tested until symptomatic" (Edozien, New York Post, 7/12).
- "Inequities in Health, Race? Among African Americans, Disease Rates Are Higher and Care Is Inferior," Philadelphia Inquirer: The "tragic phenomenon" that blacks suffer higher rates of diseases -- including HIV/AIDS -- and the issue of minority health disparities in rates of illness and quality of care "finally seems to have hit the mainstream," the Inquirer reports. According to the Inquirer, "pressure is mounting" on researchers, health care providers, lawmakers, insurance companies and other businesses to address "what is arguably one of the nation's worst public health crises." The "uncomfortable but unavoidable" conclusion that health care workers "like everyone else, bring their biases to work" have led some researchers to believe that a potential long-term solution to minority health disparities is to increase the number of minorities in medicine, academia and other areas that influence research, funding and policy, the Inquirer reports (Smith, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/10).
The Black AIDS Institute has additional conference coverage relating to blacks and AIDS. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.