Yesterday, December 1, was AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome) awareness day. As I walked through the campus I noticed bright red ribbons (the international symbol for AIDS awareness) tied to the trees in the Oak Grove and students wearing red to represent the awareness.
(picture from Google)
But it's not time to put the red away. There were about 33 million people living with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) in the United States at the end of 2009 (according advert.org), just over half of those cases were women.
(graph is from avert.org)
The numbers have been growing steadily since 1990 but it has to stop now.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is even scarier in the black community. Although African-Americans only account for 12 percent of the US population, nearly 46 percent of all people living with HIV are African-Americans. The death rates for African-Americans infected with HIV or AIDS are higher than those of any other race.
Fast facts from The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation:
Black women accounted for a majority of new HIV cases (61 percent) in 2006 and of new AIDS cases (65 percent) in 2008 among women
Black teens, only 15 percent of the population, accounted for 68 percent of new AIDS cases among teens in 2007.
D.C. has the highest AIDS diagnosis rate in the country for Blacks.
HIV death rates are the highest amongst Blacks.
In 2006, HIV was the fourth leading cause of death for Black men and the third for Black women ages 25-44.
With all of this information easily available to anyone with access to the internet, free clinics or local libraries, why are our numbers so high?
The Black Student League (an organization of which I am a member) decided to provide IUP's students with even more information about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The BSL will hold a general meeting next Tuesday, December 7, in the Knowlton room in the HUB at 7 p.m. The meeting is titled: The Closet Killer: Why Are We Dying?
There's also a National Black HIV/AIDs awareness month (February) website. I never knew that there was a nationally recognized Black HIV/AIDS awareness month. It's been recognized for the past 11 years. Even with all of this information out there at our disposal, we still have so much to learn.
So dont stop rockin' your red just yet, get tested, get informed, get treated and spread the knowledge.