Destroying the Stigma — World Aids Day 2010

As we commemorated World AIDS Day on December 1st HIV continues to be a relentless burden to the African American community. African Americans represent 13% of the U.S. population while also accounting for almost half (49%) of the people currently living with HIV. Of the estimated number of new infections per year, African Americans account for 45%. The harsh reality is that approximately 1 in 16 African American men, as well as, 1 in 30 African American women will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime. African American youth represent 14% of youth ages 13-29 and account for ½ of all new HIV infections among young people in this age group. This is a troubling but real phenomenon that we must address.

In spite of these dreadful statistics, far too many people mistakenly believe HIV, in the U.S., is no longer a serious problem. We as a community must focus on specific ways to end the spread of this disease. One way to end the spread is by taking the initiative to know the facts about HIV. For example, the modes of transmission are through bodily fluids (needle sharing, breast milk, semen, vaginal & anal sex). Despite the myth of appearing frail or having lesions, HIV does not have a certain look. One does not know if he or she is HIV+ based on appearance. Another action that can be taken is knowing your status by being tested. Free testing is available regardless of where one lives (www.hivtest.org).