News / Health

HIV/AIDS Stigmatized Among African-Americans

HIV/AIDS Stigmatized Among African-Americansi
X
Carol Pearson
July 21, 2014 5:45 PM
African-Americans bear the brunt of the HIV crisis in the United States. They are more frequently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and more likely to die from this disease than any other racial or ethnic group in the country. There are many reasons, but as VOA's Carol Pearson reports, stigma is a major factor.
Carol Pearson

African-Americans bear the brunt of the HIV crisis in the United States. They are more frequently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and more likely to die from this disease than any other racial or ethnic group in the country. There are many reasons, but stigma plays a large role.

Testing involves a mere swab of the gums. The process takes only 10 seconds. It could save a life or prevent passing on an infection. It could stem an HIV epidemic in the African-American community.

But stigma - a sense of shame or disgrace - gets in the way.

African-Americans make up 12 percent of the U.S. population but account for 44 percent of the new cases of HIV, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are many reasons. Poverty, which limits access to health care, is one, and so is a lack of information about the disease. Timothy Harrison with the Department of Health and Human Services says stigma "is a huge part of what is deterring people from getting tested, and if they test positive, it may deter them from being linked to care or staying in care."

Outreach

The U.S. government has a number of programs to reach out to African-Americans. One is National HIV Testing Day.

"If you know your HIV status, you are more likely to take care of yourself, and you are least likely to transmit the virus to somebody else," Harrison said.

Howard University, a historically African-American college, addressed the issue of stigma at a conference last year. Sohail Rana was one of the panelists. Rana said he has seen patients die because of stigma.

"You attach stigma to any illness, you make its outcome 300 percent worse," Rana told VOA.

Overcoming fear

Civil rights organizations and African-American churches led the movement for equality in the 1960's, but they have been slow to join the movement against HIV/AIDS in the African-American community because of conservative beliefs about homosexuality, sex and IV drug use. That is now changing.

Shavon Arline-Bradley, who directs the health programs at the NAACP, the oldest civil rights group in the U.S., said the NAACP has a program specifically to work with African-American religious leaders.

"What we have decided to do was to identify what messages resonate with parents, what messages resonate with faith leaders and the message is this: there are people dying and you should care. Lives are being lost. You have to care,” she told VOA.

U.S. health agencies are working to get out the information that HIV is preventable, that testing is essential, and HIV is not a death sentence.

The website AIDS.gov says, "Unless the course of the epidemic changes, at some point in their lifetime, an estimated one in 16 black men and one in 32 black women will be diagnosed with HIV infection." These rates are at least eight times higher than those for whites.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More