The battle against AIDS is not yet won!

African American males are still the number one impacted demographic for new infections in Georgia.

AIDSRecently the threat of Ebola in the United States pushed all other life-threatening diseases out of the world headlines. The U.S. media hype on a possible West African-type Ebola epidemic never materialized on American shores. By contrast, the media has grown weary of covering the global AIDS worldwide pandemic.

HIV/AIDS still adversely impacts the African American community, both men and women, more than any other demographic group, especially here in Georgia. Here in Georgia, where only 13.1% of the U.S. population is African American, the African American community accounted for 46% of newly diagnosed AIDS cases in 2011. As we observe World AIDS Day today, lets not forget the impact HIV/AIDS continues to have in the United States and in Georgia. Here are a few statistics to drive the point home that prevention, education, testing, treatment and research are still much needed tools in the battle against HIV/AIDS:

  • Georgia ranks 5th (2011 CDC numbers) in newly diagnosed cases.
  • Of newly diagnosed cases in 2011, 77% were African American.
  • The number one method of transmission for African American men was through unsafe sex with other men.

It is important to remember the reasons why Georgia ranks 5th in newly diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS and our efforts are failing the African American community:

1.) AIDS still carries great social stigma, especially in the African American Community.

2.) In the 1990’s Georgia criminalized AIDS as a disease – the Georgia General Assembly made it a felony not to disclose one’s HIV status to one’s partner. This has lent to the fear of disclosure and in not seeking treatment and has done nothing to limit transmission of the disease.

3.) The lack of political will by state leaders to expand Medicaid and to make access to HIV/AIDS treatment a priority by providing expanded healthcare for those impacted by HIV/AIDS.

In Georgia, we are headed in the wrong direction on the HIV/AIDS statistical list:

  • Georgia ranks 6th in the number of deaths from AIDS.
  • Georgia is 4th in the number of people diagnosed with HIV.
  • We have moved from 11th in the 1990’s to 9th in 2009 of new AIDS cases per 100,000 persons – clearly, as a state we are headed in the wrong direction.
  • Education, prevention, and access to treatment need to remain a state healthcare priority with special attention to HIV/AIDS in the African American community.

Now is the time to write your state legislators and let them know that you are concerned about the continued impact HIV/AIDS has on our state and that you would like them to make access to treatment a top priority – in other words, expand Georgia’s Medicaid program. To contact your State Senator or State Legislator, here are the links to the General Assembly members list:

For the Senate: http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/SenateMembersList.aspx)

For the House: http://www.house.ga.gov/Representatives/en-US/HouseMembersList.aspx

Until there is a cure, we must remain vigilant in demanding that our local, state and national leaders make education, treatment and finding a cure for HIV/AIDS a national priority.

Comments

  1. Burroughston Broch says:

    I agree with what you write, but feel you missed one key component. Homosexuality itself carries a great social stigma in the African American community, more so than in other communities. Change in the African American community would be a positive force in treating AIDS.