AIDS in the African American Community

AIDS/HIV affects everyone across all racial and sexual lines, but it has greatly affected African Americans. AIDS is now the leading cause of death for African American men from thirty-five to forty-four years of age and is the second leading cause of death among African American women between the ages of twenty five and thirty-four, according to the 2001 National Vital Statistics Report. In a multisite study of 1,767 men having sex with men (MSM) from five cities (Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Miami), 450 men tested positive for HIV. Although African American MSM (AAMSM) represented only 25 percent of the five-city sample, their seroprevalence rate was 46 percent of the sample. Sixty-seven percent of the AAMSM also reported that they were unaware of their HIV status prior to testing. In addition, several AAMSM in the larger study sample indicated that they had not been tested previously because they were afraid of learning their status or that others might discover their status The plight for black communities overall is in ominous shape. These numbers tell a dire story of systems failed and lives lost here in the United States, not far off in a foreign or third world country.
African American women represent 63 percent of AIDS cases among women, and researchers estimate that about one in fifty African American men and one in 160 African American women are infected with HIV. Among HIV-infected African American women, injection drug use has accounted for 42 percent of all AIDS case reports since the epidemic began, with 38 percent due to heterosexual contact with infected male partners, primarily male injection drug users. They are most likely to be single, the majority lack a high school degree, are underemployed or unemployed, and are most severely affected by welfare reforms. These women are frequently without health insurance options and often do not have access to health services in their communities. Although women experience…

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