Editorials, Opinion Pieces Respond to Impact of HIV/AIDS on U.S. Blacks
Newspapers recently have published editorials and opinion pieces on the impact of HIV/AIDS on blacks in the U.S. Feb. 7 marked the seventh annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which aimed to encourage blacks to get tested for HIV, become educated about the virus and receive treatment if necessary. According to CDC data from 33 states published in November 2005 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the rate of new HIV cases among blacks has decreased an average of 5% annually since 2001, declining from 88.7 cases per 100,000 people in 2001 to 76.3 cases per 100,000 in 2004. However, blacks in 2004 were 8.4 times more likely than whites to be newly diagnosed with HIV. Blacks -- who make up about 12.3% of the U.S. population -- in 2004 accounted for about 49% of the estimated number of reported AIDS cases nationwide. In addition, HIV/AIDS in 2002 was the leading cause of death for black women ages 25 to 34; among the top three causes of death for black men ages 25 to 54; and among the top four causes of death for black women ages 25 to 54. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is sponsored by the Community Capacity Building Coalition, a consortium of national minority-focused groups supported by CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 2/7). Summaries appear below.
Palm Beach Post: Although 30 years of "research have given people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS a greater chance at survival," the "lack of a cure, the enduring stigma, the side effects of prescription-drug cocktails, and the racial and economic disparities in access to medical care tend to temper optimism about treatment advances," a Post editorial says. It adds that a recent study in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found a decrease in HIV incidence among blacks in Florida, which "offers a rare chance to celebrate" (Palm Beach Post, 2/11).
- Judith Lightfoot, Philadelphia Inquirer: HIV/AIDS has "become a disease that hits African-Americans with particular force," Lightfoot -- an infectious disease specialist at Garden State Infectious Disease Associates and head of the American College of Osteopathic Internists' Task Force on Minority Health and Cultural Competency -- writes in an Inquirer opinion piece. HIV/AIDS is "not a disease that anyone has to get," and the black community has the "power to stop its spread," Lightfoot writes, adding, "If we are not proactive in adapting our strategies against the epidemic, ignorance, denial and fear will become a lethal combination" (Lightfoot, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/14).
- Bill Maxwell, St. Petersburg Times: Only a "handful" of black churches in the U.S., "primarily in major cities, are actively involved" in the fight against HIV/AIDS, columnist Maxwell writes in a Times opinion piece. Other churches have "descended into denial, ignorance and homophobia," Maxwell writes, adding that the church has to "do more to help reverse this cycle of illness and death" (Maxwell, St. Petersburg Times, 2/11).
- James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: "Silence is more than devastating when it comes to AIDS," columnist Ragland writes in a Morning News opinion piece, adding, "It's deadly." According to Ragland, HIV/AIDS "continues to take a toll on the black community," which can "no longer afford to be silent" about the disease (Ragland, Dallas Morning News, 2/7).
- Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: The awareness day is a "one-day effort to raise awareness" about HIV/AIDS that "actually reminds us how far we have to go," columnist Riley writes in a Free Press opinion piece. The "conversation" about the disease "has to last for more than one day," Riley writes, adding that the black community should "speak out" because if HIV/AIDS "continues to win anywhere, it is an enemy to us everywhere" (Riley, Detroit Free Press, 2/14).