In February 2011 I began a project asking 200 Black men “What comes to mind when you think about HIV and AIDS?” Ages 18 to 60, participants hailed from L.A., Baltimore, DC, Oakland, Detroit, Atlanta, New York, Miami and Chicago. None worked in the health field or HIV industry. Responses to the question varied, but not by much. A typical reply was “I think of homosexuality,” said one 30ish gentleman, waiting at Atlanta's Hartsfield airport for a flight to Dallas. “That’s mostly who has it. Right? That’s what I heard.” I then asked, “If that were true what would you do about it?” Suddenly, he was speechless. Conspicuously, I anticipated his reply. “What can I do about that?” he finally said. I asked, “Is that a real question, because you care, or was it rhetorical?” Appearing to second guess himself, he responded, “Man, I gotta catch my flight. It was cool talking with you. Peace.”
Blog — Health
This year’s Health Symposium on Saturday, July 23 will be historic, as the three African American Surgeon Generals will sit in one room to discuss the state of black health to NAACP Health advocates from across the country.
June 27, 1981 I remember very well because it was 2 days after I graduated from high school; I was heading off to college to be ‘pre-med’. I vaguely remember hearing about a disease or syndrome that affected young gay men. It seemed very mysterious and far removed from my life. It was not on any global or national agenda, nor were there faith based initiatives, celebrity spokespersons; there were no national public health campaigns with cheeky taglines; no one was signing up for bicycle races or walks for the cure to rally around. HIV/AIDS was a whisper; even The Artist could not say it out loud, it was “the big disease with a little name”. It was that scary.
June 27 marked National HIV Testing Day, where health advocates nationwide encouraged Americans to get tested. In the spirit of the day, we sat down with NAACP Health Director Shavon Arline to answer your questions about HIV & AIDS, and discuss the NAACP's HIV prevention efforts and how you can get involved.
Thirty years ago, on June 5, 1981, CDC published the first report of cases of what is now known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The article in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) reported on Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in five previously healthy young men in Los Angeles, California. These cases were later recognized as the first reported cases of AIDS in the United States.
In the United States, African Americans still face a higher risk of HIV infection than any other racial or ethnic group as evidenced by AIDSVu.org (hyper link on Monday), an online mapping tool that provides a visual display of the prevalence of HIV. Black men and women of all ages and sexual orientations are less likely than other Americans to know they are infected, are diagnosed late and are less likely to be receiving treatment. We cannot continue to tolerate these disparities
Black people continue to bear the brunt of the AIDS epidemic; we are also being rocked by the economic recession. As Black families lose their homes, jobs, and health insurance, it is critical that a bigger and stronger safety-net be available. The health care reform legislation passed last year is a major step towards health-related security for all Black Americans especially those living with HIV/AIDS.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) offers hope to millions of Americans who will gain insurance coverage under it; and the definition of essential benefits plays a crucial role in turning that hope into a useful reality. As Secretary Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said recently:
As we enter into our thirtieth year of the HIV/AIDS pandemic here in America, I’m still hearing many researchers, men who have sex with men (MSM), HIV activists, the infected and the affected asking the same question; “Where are the heterosexual (non-MSM) Black men, and why aren’t they doing more to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the Black community?”
Let’s talk about sex. No, not the Salt ‘N’ Pepa hit from the 1990s. As a Black Community, especially black women, we need to have an honest discussion about what really happens behind our closed doors. Two weeks ago, I turned twenty-five. While I am thankful to have lived for quarter of a century, it is sobering to know that 83.8 percent of women in my age group (25-34) attributed contracting HIV through heterosexual contact in 2008. It is even more disconcerting to note that Black/African American women had the highest percentage (87 percent) of HIV transmission through heterosexual contact .These statistics are staggering. It is time to ring the alarm. Our silence here is not golden.
In honor of the 30th commemoration of HIV/AIDS, the NAACP has launched a blogging campaigning entitled HIV/AIDS at 30. It will feature blogs and video posts from the NAACP staff, leadership, members, and partners on various topics that affect the black community. Each month we will have a new topic. March is Women and Girls month and two of our Act Against Aids Initiative (AAALI) partners, Black Women’s Health Imperative‘s President and CEO, Eleanor Hilton Hoytt and the National Council of Negro Women’s, Executive Director Dr. Avis Jones- DeWeever have written articles to shed light on a disease that is claiming the lives of so many black women.
I sat before the room dumbfounded. Surrounding me were brilliant, beautiful, driven, and successful young women. Each high achievers in their own right. Each on the verge of certain success. Yet, these young women who had originally come to my office to discuss transversing that critical, but sometimes scary path of transitioning from undergraduate education to the rest of their lives, had seemingly only one thing at the top of their minds, “Will I ever find love?”
America is facing a crisis when it comes to leading healthy lifestyles. And of the populations suffering most from diet-related illness, African Americans top the list.
A silent disease is taking away the sight of millions of Americans. It’s called glaucoma and it can slowly reduce eyesight and may cause blindness.
As we begin this new year, the NAACP finds ourselves back in the fight to support that which is now law: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.