HIV/AIDS has been a global epidemic for more than 27 years. Most of today's youth have never known a world without it. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published national HIV incidence (new infections) that showed much higher numbers that previous estimates. The time is now. Together, we can prevent the spread of this pandemic – through awareness, care, prevention, education and research.
“HIV/AIDS has now become a pandemic that has literally put the world at risk, affecting diverse populations in different ways”. –Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA Director. Source
Of the 992,865 AIDS cases reported to the Center for Disease Control through 2006, Blacks women accounted for 40% of the total. These are the voices of Ladies of Distinction, a group of 12 African American women, living life to the fullest and living life with HIV.
Contracting the virus:
"The health department came in and escorted me to JPS, and they confined me in a room," she says, the tears now streaming. "I will never forget the day they told me." Sharon, 27 contracted HIV via a blood transfusion when she was17."If you have $20 in your pocket, are you going to spend it on entertainment or a box of condoms? For a lot of people, condoms are at the bottom of their list." Daphne Myles, executive director of the Tarrant County AIDS Interfaith Network in Fort Worth.
Before this support group, I was really depressed. felt ugly because of this disease." Karen struggles to protect her family from the stigma of her diagnosis.
"We have got to learn to love ourselves." Veronica, 36.
Prison’s revolving door:
"It’s not that all African-American men are messing around in prison, but a great majority are. I’ve seen it happen with all races." Jerry Wyatt who had HIV when he began serving a five-year sentence on drug charges in 1995.
"You have men coming out of prison who had sex with men and they’re not really gay, they’re just taking care of their sexual needs. He’s not going to practice homosexuality when he gets out of prison; he’s coming home to his wife." Vera Owens, a minister with the Minority AIDS Project in Los Angeles.
Living with HIV:
"People don’t want their employer to know they have HIV." Shannon Hilgart, associate executive director of the AIDS Outreach Center.
"The stigma of AIDS has left the nation with a generation that would rather die from the disease than admit they have it." Jasmine Burnett, development associate for the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles.
"I want a relationship, but I am afraid to tell him I have HIV." Karen
The preceding excerpts were taken from the article, Hit by HIV, black women reach in to cope, out to empower, by Jan Jarvis. I encourage all Sojourners to read it in its entirety. The statistics are certainly devastating...each statistic has a face...and as the numbers continue to rise the faces of this deadly virus are those of women and children of a "darker hue".
STAY INFORMED! STAY HEALTHY
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Drug abuse by any route can put a person at risk for getting HIV. This is because drug and alcohol intoxication affect judgment and can lead to unsafe sexual practices, which put people at risk for getting HIV or transmitting it to someone else. NIDA has developed the following resources to help educate, share and increase awareness of the AIDS issue.
AIDS.gov: The Federal government has developed a wealth of HIV/AIDS testing, prevention, treatment and research information. In addition, the following are some of the many resources you can use to help response to HIV/AIDS.
AIDS.gov blog about Using New Media Tools in Response to HIV/AIDS
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – HIV/AIDS
Finding an HIV Testing Center Near You
KNOWIT HIV Testing Text Messaging Campaign
National HIV/AIDS Awareness Days
Podcasts from AIDS.gov
Updates from AIDS.gov from Twitter
Obliged to you for hearing me,
and now old SjP ain't got nothin' more to say...
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