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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs