Economics Among Challenges Blacks Face With HIV/AIDS, Opinion Piece Says
Economic conditions are a "fundamental" challenge that blacks face in terms of HIV/AIDS, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) writes in an opinion piece for the Louisiana Weekly. He says, "When the economy sours, those who earn the least typically suffer the most. Unfortunately, those same people are statistically more likely to be suffering, literally, from diseases such as HIV/AIDS."
Ellison notes that the CDC Web site states that people facing tough economic conditions do not always have access to good health care. He adds that such "dilemmas are particularly acute for African-Americans, one in four of whom were living in poverty in 1999."
According to Ellison, the U.S. cannot devote funding to "lift Americans out of poverty or significantly improve health care for those living with HIV/AIDS while [it] spend[s] $10 billion per month on military activities in Iraq." He writes, "The consequence of the federal government's current spending priorities is, regrettably, that poor people can't access high-quality health care and that African-Americans don't encounter enough targeted outreach about HIV/AIDS. I am working to change these priorities."
Other challenges blacks face in dealing with HIV/AIDS include education, incarceration and homophobia, Ellison writes. In addition, he notes that CDC says a "history of racism, oppression and a lack of trust in governmental institutions make it more challenging for public health agencies to effectively reach African-Americans."
Ellison says, "We must take time to get involved in our local communities, urging our friends and families to get tested and get educated about transmission modes of HIV/AIDS. We must continue our efforts to ensure that treatment is accessible to all those who are currently living with HIV. It is essential that we see this crisis in its broader context if we hope to slow the spread of this epidemic in our communities" (Ellison, Louisiana Weekly, 3/3).