HIV/AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Diseases,
Prevention News Update
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
May 30, 2001
Years of AIDS in America
Wall Street Journal
05.30.01; Ann Carrns
Twenty years after the first cases of AIDS
were identified, the rate of HIV infection for Americans has stabilized at
roughly 40,000 annually. That reduced overall HIV infection rate, however,
is not reflected in the HIV rate for African-Americans.
African-Americans account for more than
half of new infections, according to the CDC. One in 50 black men is
believed to have HIV, with black women accounting for 64 percent of new
HIV cases among adult females. "It's unacceptable, in a rich nation
like ours, to have 40,000 new infections of what is a preventable
disease," said Dr. Helene Gayle, director of the CDC's AIDS
The higher HIV rate for African-Americans
is accounted for by enduring socioeconomic disparities, including lack of
access to medical care. African-Americans are more likely than whites to
live in areas with high rates of STDs. "Clients I see rarely have
just HIV," says Patricia Kelly, executive director of Movers Inc., an
AIDS outreach program in Miami. "It's HIV and substance abuse, HIV
and domestic violence, HIV and my kids are in foster care, HIV and my
family won't have anything to do with me, HIV and I'm in jail."
Blacks are disproportionately represented in US prisons, where HIV
infection rates are six times higher than in the general population.
In addition, black men who have sex with
men are less likely to identify as homosexual and so miss prevention
messages targeting gays. According to Kevin McGruder, executive director
of Gay Men of African Descent, a New York nonprofit organization, black
men are less likely to be public about being gay because fewer
institutional support systems and medical clinics understand their
Mistrust of the medical establishment
endures among poor, black Americans because of a history of abuse, like
the government-sponsored Tuskegee Syphilis study that left patients
diagnosed with the disease untreated even after the development of
penicillin. Surveys show that eight of 10 people at risk for HIV believe
at least one HIV conspiracy theory. According to Dr. Beny Primm, executive
director of the Addiction Research and Treatment Corp., the best way to
counter the mistrust that leads to high-risk behavior is to use
HIV-positive counselors in high- risk neighborhoods. "This way,"
he says, "the misinformation is refuted by people who are trusted by
the community." Such focused intervention can increase HIV testing
and may serve as a blueprint for broader efforts.
to other CDC news for May 30, 2001
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This document was provided by the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.