Catastrophic statistics indicate a red warning zone
MEXICO CITY - Phill Wilson, founder and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute of Los Angeles, wishes now that African Americans would have took the threat of the HIV/AIDS epidemic more seriously in 1984.
“I could not help but think back then that if AIDS was life threatening for White people what kind of impact that it would have on us. When America catches cold, Black people get pneumonia,” Wilson said on the weekend of the XVII International AIDS Conference.
Now, 24 years later, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has engulfed the Black community to the tune of an alarming 600,000 of men, women and children living with the potentially deadly virus.
That massive number represents half of the 1.2 million Americans affected with the virus, although Blacks only make up 12 percent of the American population.
AIDS is the leading cause of death among Black women between the ages of 25 and 34 leading and the second leading cause of death in Black men 35-44.
The myth that HIV/AIDS is a disease that primarily affects Black gays and Whites is buried under the sea of evidence that indicates otherwise.
“It is a Black disease,” emphatically stated Wilson who has been HIV positive for two decades has been the cornerstone of the movement that is mobilizing Black America to combat the increasing crisis.
The Black AIDS Institute is the only organization of its kind focusing on Blacks, and has been an instrumental think thank that has inspired, developed and cultivated campaigns and programs with political leaders, civil rights groups, churches and Black media outlets nationwide in a effort to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic among Blacks.
Former President Bill Clinton, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Los Angeles), and national civil rights spokesman Rev. Al Sharpton are scheduled to be among the individuals address the more than 30,000 individuals at the International HIV/AIDS Conference held on Latin soil for the first time.
The confab is held annually every two years, and the Black Aids Institute has been attending the event for the past decade and financing the trip abroad for Black delegates and Black journalist.
A pool of roughly one dozen journalists is responsible for 90 percent of all information at the convention assimilated to the African American press.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) released its latest findings on the HIV/AIDS virus on Sunday Aug. 2 and reported that 56,000 cases have been discovered each year since a study from 2001-2006, 40 percent more than previous estimates. However, the CDCP warned that those numbers do not indicate an overall increase in new infections.
It did point to an alarming rate that the virus has increased among young same sex men and in the minority community among Blacks and Latinos.
Wilson has been diligent and thorough in breaking down the cases as it relates to Blacks and it will be interesting to see later this week how those numbers affect the Black community.
He is not just passionate about the disease because he has been infected with it, but because it is the single largest threat facing Black civilization.
His challenge is daunting, but he is not the least bit discouraged.
One of his goals is to encourage the United States Government to expand on its financial resource commitment in America, particularly since the epidemic finds AIDS in segments in Black America as severe in parts of Africa.
The XVII International AIDS Conference began on Aug. 2 and will conclude on Friday, August 8.