Black Community Should Increase HIV/AIDS Awareness Efforts, Forum Participants Say
Many in the black community are silent about HIV/AIDS and the risk the disease poses to black women, AIDS experts and advocates said at a forum in Los Angeles on Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reports. A misperception still exists among some in the black community that HIV only affects white men who have sex with men, commercial sex workers and injection drug users, according to Carrie Broadus, executive director of Women Alive, a Los Angeles-based group that provides care and support to HIV-positive women. This belief puts black women at an increased risk of contracting HIV compared with other women in the U.S., participants said, noting that black women, who make up 12% of the female population, comprise almost seven out of 10 women newly diagnosed with AIDS. "The women we serve, they're wives, they're professionals ... in what we call monogamous relationships, but they're getting infected" by their male partners, Broadus said. According to participants, these male partners, who "often have have sexual relationships with other men," become infected with HIV through unprotected sex and can pass on HIV to their "unwitting female partners." Because black MSM often are stigmatized in their communities, the issue is difficult to address, according to former California state Assembly member Roderick Wright (D). Forum participants called on members of the black community to advocate the use of condoms and HIV testing to their partners, family and community members. They also said that prominent black organizations, especially churches, need to become more involved in providing HIV/AIDS education (Lin, Los Angeles Times, 10/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.