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Black American AIDS Report Says Epidemic Growing in US


Besides the UNAIDS report, another report was released on the HIV/AIDS epidemic Tuesday. But this one deals with African Americans.

The report is entitled Left Behind – Black America, a Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS Epidemic. It comes from the Black AIDS Institute. The CEO of the institute, Phill Wilson, outlines the report's findings.

"We see an epidemic that is growing in black America. A half a million black Americans are infected with HIV. And 50 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in the US are black. AIDS in America today, it can be argued, is a black disease. No matter how you look at it – through the lens of gender, sexual orientation, age, social-economic class, level of education, a region of the country where you live – black people bear the brunt of the AIDS epidemic. We are 30 percent of the new cases among gay men, 40 percent of the new cases among men in general, 60 percent of the new cases among women and 70 percent of the new cases among youth," he says.

Wilson says while the United States has responded well to HIV/AIDS abroad, the record is less favorable at home. He says, "We are very concerned that the growing epidemic in America, which is largely an epidemic in black America, seems to be taken for granted or left behind in the United States. This report draws important parallels between the two epidemics, the global and the domestic. For example, infection rates in some communities in black America are as high as some parts of Africa. And more black Americans are infected with HIV than the total populations of people living with HIV in seven of the 15 countries served by PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). Yet, the US response to AIDS in black America stands in sharp contrast to our national response to the epidemic overseas."

Dr. Helene Gayle, president of CARE, helped present the report's findings. She says, "As in Africa, HIV in the US takes a tremendous toll on black women. African American women are 23 times more likely than white women to be diagnosed with AIDS…. Many black women in the United States are more vulnerable to HIV because of gender inequity. And black women can often not insist on abstinence or use of condoms because of fear of violence or other emotional trauma that occurs with trying to get their partners to reduce their risk of exposure to HIV."

However, she says black young people and men are often more vulnerable as well.

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