December 1st is Black HIV Awareness Day for me!
By Tony R. Wafford
Twenty eight years into the HIV/AIDS pandemic and still today in the United States, HIV/AIDS is a health crisis in Black America.Â Every responsible person, politician, pastor, parishioner and Black paper has called the HIV/AIDS pandemic a health emergency in Black communities all over this nation.Â Blacks, suffering from AIDS, often donâ€™t live as long as Whites and other races and ethnic groups with AIDS due to the barriers.Â For African Americans, HIV/AIDS is a leading cause of death.Â The sad truth is our babies!Â Black babies account for 63% of the HIV/AIDS cases among children under the age of 13.Â HIV/AIDS among women; Black women account for 64% ofÂ all the newly reported HIV/AIDS cases.Â Black women are getting infected at a rate of 25 times of that of white women.Â But hey, itâ€™s going to work its self out, after all, we have called the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Black America a NATIONAL emergence . . . right?Â
Maybe some of us donâ€™t see the HIV/AIDS pandemic as a higher priority because the primary cause of transmission/infection is due to HIV positive men having unprotected sex with other men and women.Â I can hear a number of you now, â€œWhat about those women that are infected, that are infecting Black menâ€? Â But letâ€™s not take this opportunity to get into comparing pain and suffering. Â In the same breath, we must face the facts, its HIV infected brothers (knowingly or unknowingly) having unprotected sex with other men and women spreading HIV/AIDS. Â Call it what you like, homosexuals, gays, same gender lovers, bisexuals, transgender, homo-thugs or negroes that donâ€™t identify as non of the above,Â are killing our community. The issue for me is that Black people bear the brunt of the AIDS epidemic in America. The number of new HIV infections in Blacks was 1.6 times the number in whites. Â 50% of those newly infected are Black people and more than half of them are men who have sex with other men. Â Â
I would argue, thatâ€™s why many of our people really donâ€™t see HIV/AIDS as a major issue for our community. Â Hellâ€¦. who really cares about the lives of two men having unprotected sex with one another knowingly? Â And, as far as the women, they shouldnâ€™t be sleeping around?Â What an ignorant approach!Â Blacks carry the bulk of the epidemic; HIV/AIDS is and has always been a Black disease. Â High-risk heterosexual contact accounted for 80% of new infections among our women. Â And these are all sisters sleeping around, many are women in what they think are monogamist relationships with husbands and longtime boyfriends. Â
Now, I know this is going to be hard for many of you to deal with but we have to address it. Â Blacks who have sex with other men, (homosexuals) under 30 are hardest hit.Â Our young brothers who have sex with men between the ages of 13 and 29 have infection rates roughly twice that of White and Latino homosexuals. This group of young brothers have the highest number of infections of any other subset of homosexual men, followed by injection drug use and high-risk heterosexual contact.Â We have a problem Black people!Â Â
We donâ€™t have time to argue about if the HIV/AIDS virus originated as a result of inadvertent inoculation of an HIV-like virus present in monkey kidney cell cultures used to prepare the polio vaccine is one of a number of unsubstantiated hypotheses. The weight of scientific evidence does not support this idea, and there is no more reason to believe this hypothesis than many other which have been considered and rejected on scientific grounds. Â The issues for me is, the AIDS virus is here and we are dying so what are we going to do about it? Â
Some say that homo-distain and stigma has caused many Black homosexuals to identify themselves as heterosexual or not to disclose their sexual orientation at all. Black homosexuals are more likely than their homosexual comrades of other races not to identify themselves as such. Â Think Iâ€™m wrong? Okay letâ€™s look at it. There are some 45 million plus Black people living in America, right? Â Can you name three (2) major, self disclosed Black homosexuals?Â The Black equivalent to David Geffen, Elton John, Bernie Franks.Â Do you mean to tell me that out of 45 million people, we donâ€™t have one prominent Black male homosexual?Â Sure we do, but maybe because we donâ€™t love one another as we should. Maybe because we donâ€™t see each other as brothers and sisters first?Â Either you look at it as itâ€™s the absence of self-identification and the absence of disclosure that presents a challenge to prevention programs and education fueling the spread of HIV/AIDS in Black America.
Thereâ€™s no major movement by Black heterosexuals to condemn Black homosexuals, not even in the Black church. Oh sure, we all have an opinion on homosexuality, but no one wants to see our people suffer and die from HIV/AIDS.Â So letâ€™s all pull together to educate, treat and care for our brothers and sisters suffering from HIV/AIDS.Â Let us not do it as Black gays, homosexuals, SGL, trans-genders, lesbians and bi-sexuals, but letâ€™s all work together to save our people and to save our community. We are all oppressed because of our Blackness, so letâ€™s fight to save ourselves in the name of our Blackness and we can only do that by being Black First!