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Health advocates gathered at the New Orleans Vieux Carre Restaurant to discuss African American women who account for the majority of new HIV/AIDS cases and Sexually Transmitted Diseases among women.
The Black Women for Wellness Foundation sponsored the event on Friday, July 11.
HIV/STD reports indicated that 2.8 million new cases of Chlamydia and HIV/AIDS infections are among women, but majority of the women who make up these new cases are African American. African American women are more likely than Hispanics and any other race to become infected with HIV/AIDS and other STDs.
The influence of alcohol and drugs are the main factors with African American women contracting this life threatening virus, since substances put them in bad situations where they make poor judgments about sex, say medical experts.
Homosexuality within the African American community is also putting them at higher risk than others due to partners who engage in unprotected intercourse with other men without telling their female partners about them.
One speaker mentioned that prominent homosexual Caucasians are more likely to embrace their homosexual lifestyle than African American men who appear on mainstream television and other public spotlights.
“We aren’t talking to each other about this issue,” Tony Wafford, National Director of Program for Action Network said. “Black men aren’t talking to women, and we need more open and honest dialogue [among each other].
One woman said the Hip Hop culture has a big influence on sexual behaviors causing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Black community and Wafford agrees. He said the Hip Hop culture speaks bluntly about sexual activities. Because of the misguidance of the Hip Hop culture embracing promiscuity and unsafe sexual behaviors among youth and young adults, HIV and STDs will continue to skyrocket. Wafford said Hip Hop is not the only genre that talks about sex in their music. He said other genres like Jazz and Rock n Roll talked about sex, but not in ways where sex is dehumanizing.
“We had music that talked about sex since the beginning of time,” Wafford said. “But for example [when] Billie Holiday would sing, ‘Come put a little sugar in my bowl, we knew what she was talking about.”
Health Educator Erika Siever, Department of Public Health said it’s the lack of education and support inside the households and the mainstream media that does not own up to their responsibility about sexual intercourse.
“[Most of the time], parents don’t know how AIDS is spreading,” Siever said. “We also need to address them in schools, and movies could show some areas of responsibility when it comes to sex as well. We need to educate our kids about condoms. Show a guy actually putting on a condom [in the movies]. We need to show the image of responsibility.”
Cleo Manago, CEO of the AmASSI Health Cultural and Leadership Training Center said Black people allow racism and other disparities to distract them from HIV/AIDS epidemic. He said Black people have experienced inner generational trauma and stress that has not been resolved. Because of the numerous distractions relating to racism in Black America, adults aren’t talking to children about the significance of safe sex.
Since the 1980s, Blacks have yet to be sufficiently protected against HIV.
“We are too distracted by race methodology in this society to be focused and alarmed about HIV/AIDS,” Manago said. “It shouldn’t be based on statistics, but the quality of life we see among Black people.”