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AIDS: What's The Status Of The Epidemic In US? - 2003-12-01

Experts say in developed countries, a great deal of progress has been made in the fight against AIDS through prevention programs and drug treatments. But they also say HIV/AIDS has become a disease of color, hitting the African American and Latino communities hard. Here in Washington, DC, thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS get treatment and counseling at the world-renowned Whitman-Walker Clinic. English to Africa reporter Kim Lewis spoke with the executive director of the clinic, Cornelius Baker.

Mr. Baker said about one million people in the United States are living with the virus; he said about one third of them do not know their status, and another third are not in any type of treatment program. He said 40,000 new HIV infections occur annually in the United States.

Mr. Baker said HIV/AIDS continues to spread among the African-American and Latino communities, partly because of certain misconceptions. He said generally, African-Americans and Latinos do not practice safe sex because they believe that HIV/AIDS is a disease of the white male homosexual community.

Another big challenge is educating young people. Mr. Baker said we must teach them about the importance of abstinence and practicing safe sex.