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African American Communities Face AIDS Crisis


More than a million people in the United States are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 50,000 more people are infected with HIV each year, and African Americans are seven times more likely than white people to be among those newly infected.

((NATS:)
"You want to get tested?"
((NARRATOR))
Every year African American communities across the United States hold an HIV/AIDS awareness day.
((NATS))
"We're giving out information about HIV."
((NARRATOR))
African Americans make up about 13 percent of the US population and account for nearly half of all new HIV infections. The epidemic afflicts everyone, young and old alike in black communities throughout the country.
((SHARON ARLINE BRADLEY, NAACP))
"One in 16 black men and one in 13 black women will be infected with the virus."
((NARRATOR))
Sharon Arline ((ARE-line)) Bradley is the health director of the N-double A-CP, a civil rights organization that traditionally focuses on racial equality and legal issues. Now it has an office on AIDS.
The causes of AIDS in black communities are the same as anywhere else, having unprotected sex and multiple sex partners, sharing IV drug needles and not getting medical help once infected.
The dark red areas on this map from Emory University shows where HIV is most common in the United States.
This one shows where most African Americans have the virus. Researchers say AIDS is more common among the poor.
At the National Institutes of Health, Dr. John Ruffin oversees minority health issues.
((DR. JOHN RUFFIN, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH))
"There are people, for example, who do not have access to (health) care. They don't have (health) insurance. They don't have many of those things that are needed once they have contacted the disease."
((NARRATOR))
These young women teach young people how to avoid getting HIV.
((EBONY SIMPSON))
"We do outreach and host events and encourage people to get tested."
((ZATAUNIA HEARD))
"It's kind of crazy, but a lot of people would rather not get tested."
((DONNA CAMPBELL))
"When you ask a female if she wants condoms, she'll say 'no'."
((LADERA ELLIS))
"Most most people who have a monogamous partner, they don't know that their partner is sleeping with somebody else."
((NARRATOR))
The women are with Metro Teen AIDS, a community health organization.
In the African American community, there's a stigma associated with AIDS rooted in homophobia.
((LADERA ELLLIS))
"The biggest stigma on it, HIV, to me is gay people. Gay people. That's where people think it came from."
((NARRATOR))
Both health officials and community activists say AIDS has to be destigmatized in order to reduce infections. After he was infected with the virus, Phill Wilson founded the Black AIDS Institute, a think tank focused on stopping AIDS among African Americans.
((PHILL WILSON))
"I'm alive today because I got tested. I'm alive today because I took control of my life. I'm alive today because I took advantage of the treatments that are available."
((NARRATOR))
It comes down to eliminating the stigma associated with the AIDS virus, providing education, testing, treatment and health care in African American communities, getting people to limit the number of sexual partners and using condoms.
((PHILL WILSON))
"We have the ability to end the AIDS epidemic in America today. And the question is no longer can we end the AIDS epidemic, but will we?"
((NARRATOR))
Wilson says more funding is needed for testing and prevention programs because, he says, when people understand the virus, they are better able to protect themselves from getting it. (Signed)

African Americans make up about 13 percent of the US population and account for nearly half of all new HIV infections. The epidemic afflicts everyone, young and old alike in black communities throughout the country.

"One in 16 black men and one in 13 black women will be infected with the virus," says Sharon Arline Bradley, the health director of the N-double A-CP, a civil rights organization that traditionally focuses on racial equality and legal issues. Now it has an office on AIDS.

The causes of AIDS in black communities are the same as anywhere else, having unprotected sex and multiple sex partners, sharing IV drug needles and not getting medical help once infected.

The dark red areas on this map from Emory University shows where HIV is most common in the United States.

This one shows where most African Americans have the virus. Researchers say AIDS is more common among the poor.

At the National Institutes of Health, Dr. John Ruffin, oversees minority health issues.

"There are people, for example, who do not have access to [health] care," Ruffin says. "They don't have insurance. They don't have many of those things that are needed once they have contacted the disease."

Women with Metro Teen AIDS, a community health organization, teach young people how to avoid getting HIV. In the African American community, there's a stigma associated with AIDS rooted in homophobia.

"The biggest stigma on it, HIV, to me is gay people. Gay people. That's where people think it came from," says Ladera Elllis.

Both health officials and community activists say AIDS has to be destigmatized in order to reduce infections. After he was infected with the virus, Phill Wilson founded the Black AIDS Institute, a think tank focused on stopping AIDS among African Americans.

"I'm alive today because I got tested," says Wilson. "I'm alive today because I took control of my life. I'm alive today because I took advantage of the treatments that are available."

It comes down to eliminating the stigma associated with the AIDS virus, providing education, testing, treatment and health care in African American communities, getting people to limit the number of sexual partners and using condoms, he says.

"We have the ability to end the AIDS epidemic in America today. And the question is no longer can we end the AIDS epidemic, but will we?"

More funding is needed for testing and prevention programs because, Wilson says, when people understand the virus, they are better able to protect themselves from getting it.

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