U.S. Black Community Should Discuss Behavioral Factors Involved in HIV Transmission, Target Black Men, NPR Commentary Says
HIV/AIDS "remains an unspoken taboo" among black U.S. residents, despite "the litany of grim health statistics that define the high mortality rates of black Americans," Amy Alexander, an author and media critic, said in a commentary on NPR's "News & Notes with Ed Gordon" on Tuesday. According to Alexander, black officials, clergy and community activists are not discussing the behavioral factors involved in HIV transmission in a "manner that is helpful, rational, and likely to educate [blacks] about the dreadfully high stakes involved" because of the "usual combination of lack of funding, political will and the shame and stigma." Alexander says that because black men are "historically averse to seeking medical care," especially for mental or emotional issues, those struggling with drug addiction or questioning their sexual identity would "rather suffer in silence than seek the help of clinical professionals," and black men engaging in behaviors that put them at risk of contracting HIV "simply carry on unattended, untouched by the public service messages and educational campaigns designed to reinforce healthy behavior." Alexander adds, "The denial, shame and stigma that continue to surround blacks and HIV must be vanquished" before the black community is (Alexander, "News & Notes with Ed Gordon," NPR, 5/2).
The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.