Friday, February 10, 2006

Washington, DC's "secret" HIV/AIDS crisis

"Washington, D.C., Battles AIDS Health Crisis

Listen to this story... by

All Things Considered, February 7, 2006 · The District of Columbia has one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the United States; by some counts, the highest. In D.C., one in 20 people is HIV-positive. Twenty-five years after the first reports of the AIDS virus in the United States, why is D.C.'s prevalence rate so high?"

I heard this on NPR, recently, and was amazed at, not only the statistics (which basically say one person in very movie theater row in DC is HIV-positive), but the lack of awareness of this issue. Apparently, things are a little better than they were, so how bad were they and why didn't more people know about THAT?

This has the makings of another New Orleans-impression (i.e. "Bush doesn't care about Black people). I'm not blaming this on any particular politician. I'm saying that another example of a lackluster government response to a threat to a largely African-American population isn't going to sit well with a lot of people. If anything, it'll reinforce Kanye's memorable point.

The segment went on to say that a significant portion of the females, particularly minority females, newly-infected with HIV were with partners who'd been incarcerated.

Things need to change. We need to inform people. We need to make sure efforts are properly funded. We need to organize large scale testing. We need to STOP throwing people away, like garbage, once they get slapped with the "criminal" label. Clearly the fact that we don't care about the brutality within our prison systems, including rape, has lead to repercussions that have spilled over into the non-criminal population.

What do YOU think?
Questions? Comments?


Cool AC said...

Wow, this post is really deep. As a black female living in DC it is of real concern that this problem is occuring. But there are so many layers to the answer to your question, I don't know where to begin. Education and awaress are key. Grown ups are still afraid to talk to kids about sex. Not to mention this generation thinks they are invincible and they don't care about anything but themselves. Yet, they don't self protect. It really boggles my mind.

West said...

I agree, cool ac.
I think, though, that a LARGE segment of the infected female population had formerly-incarcerated partners. I think it may have been as high as 75-85%.

Maybe higher. If someone knows the actual statistics (I'm not gonna listen, again, just yet), feel free to correct me here. Truth is more important than my ego.

So, anyway, it seems that getting a handle on incarceration-related issues is very, very important.

Too bad most folks don't care about convicts and ex-cons. It's going to make any organized efforts that much more difficult.

HIV+DaveyBoy said...

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Miz JJ said...

I had never heard of these stats before. I co-sign with CoolAc. We need to talk to our kids about protecting themselves.