HIV/AIDS Epidemic Among African-American Women ‘Invisible’ to Politicians, Opinion Piece Says
The "economic realities of poor women -- many of them black -- make them vulnerable to their partners and, apparently, invisible to politicians," columnist Lenore Skenazy writes in a New York Daily News opinion piece. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States has become a national security issue, as 40,000 people in the country will contract HIV this year alone -- 50% of whom will be black, according to Skenazy. Currently, African-American women are 13 times as likely to die from AIDS-related causes as white women, and Skenazy asks, "Isn't preventing the deaths of innocent Americans exactly what national security is all about?" Low-income, African-American women are at higher risk of contracting HIV for several reasons, including being more likely to have male sexual partners who also have sex with other men or who recently have been released from jail; 95% of U.S. prisons do not provide condoms to inmates, even though an estimated 65% of inmates have sex while in prison, according to Skenazy. However, the fact that women do not have an HIV "prevention tool" that they can use without their sexual partners' consent is an "even bigger problem" for low-income, minority women, according to Talata Reeves, director of women's and family services at Gay Men's Health Crisis, Skenazy writes. Although microbicides would offer a way for women to "discretely" protect themselves, their development has been "woefully underfunded" by the Bush administration -- which is "intent on pushing abstinence and marriage" as HIV/AIDS prevention strategies -- Reeves said, according to Skenazy (Skenazy, New York Daily News, 10/13). Microbicides include a range of products such as gels, films, sponges and other products that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/15). "Chalk up another security crisis brewing right under our leaders' noses," Skenazy concludes (New York Daily News, 10/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.