Black Community Especially Hard Hit by HIV/AIDS
June 26, 2003
Health experts say the rising rate of HIV infection among blacks, especially in the South, is a cause for concern -- an issue that is especially prominent this week because Friday is National HIV Testing Day.
Testing is the first step toward getting the counseling and treatment necessary to live well with HIV. But an estimated quarter of a million people do not know they are infected, according to the National Association of People with AIDS.
The South -- 16 states and the District of Columbia -- is home to 38 percent of the U.S. population but 40 percent of HIV/AIDS cases. In 2000-2001, blacks accounted for 49 percent of newly reported AIDS cases in the South, said Lynda Kettinger, director of the STD/HIV division of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. According to 2001 statistics, South Carolina ranks eighth in the number of residents per 100,000 thought to be living with the virus.
That the disease is known in some local black communities by slang terms like "the alphabet" or "ninja" suggests that it is a known fact of life. About 75 percent of HIV/AIDS cases in South Carolina are among blacks, Kettinger said. During 2000-2001, Kettinger said, 80 percent of black women diagnosed with HIV in South Carolina reported heterosexual sex as their risk factor, while 10 percent cited intravenous drug use. Black men reported male-to-male sex as a risk factor in 44 percent of cases, heterosexual sex in 36 percent, and intravenous drug use in 19 percent.
A community advisory committee has been formed to study the factors that influence HIV/AIDS transmission in the local black community, said Marchelle Eichelberger, HIV program manager at DHEC's Trident District. The committee is following a model called RARE (Rapid Assessment and Response Evaluation), which has been used in other cities to define the best places to focus community efforts to stop HIV's spread among blacks.
Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.)
06.23.03; Wevonneda Minis
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.