- Racial Equity
- Talk About Race
AIDS is a disease that has now claimed the lives of over 25 million people. It would be a mistake to think that deaths from AIDS are no longer a common occurrence, or that the possibility of treatment has solved the epidemic. The rates of HIV infection are growing faster than expected. Even worse, according to the UN, 2 million people died from HIV related complications in 2008 alone.
African Americans are far and away the racial and ethnic group most affected by HIV in the United States. Of those living with the disease in the United States, almost half are African-American. According to the CDC, Black men and women are ten times more likely to contract the disease as white men and women. Although Black men and women only count for 12% of the US population, they counted for 45% of all new infections in 2006 and 49% in 2007. By comparison, the next most affected group, Hispanics, account for 17% of new infections in 2006.
Over one million Americans are HIV positive, many of whom are unaware of it. Although efforts to create a vaccine along with aggressive education and testing to prevent the spread of the disease are important and vital, we should not forget the struggles of those who live with the disease. In the film Precious, Clareece ‘Precious’ Jones discovers, after getting her life on track, that she is infected with HIV as a result of being repeatedly raped by her father. We should never forget the Precious’s out there.
We can and should do more to support those living with the disease, to develop better life-sustaining treatments, to make those treatments affordable and accessible, and to give proper care to those living with the disease.
December 1st was World AIDS Day.
Author: Stephen Menendian (15 Articles)
Stephen Menendian is the senior legal research associate at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University. Stephen directs and supervises the Institute’s legal advocacy, analysis and research, and manages many of the Institute’s most important projects. His principal areas of advocacy and scholarship include education, civil rights and human rights, Constitutional law, the racialization of opportunity structures, talking about race, systems thinking and implicit bias.