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Are We Being Left Behind?

December 2008

At the WORLD table in the Global Village (l to r): Shalini Eddens, Sylvia Young, Naina Khanna, and Maura Riordan
At the WORLD table in the Global Village (l to r): Shalini Eddens, Sylvia Young, Naina Khanna, and Maura Riordan
The Black AIDS Institute recently released a report called Left Behind, highlighting the disproportionate impact of HIV in the U.S. Black community and demanding a more coordinated and comprehensive response to address HIV prevention, treatment and care.

The report presents some shocking statistics, ranking health in the Black community as it compares to the rest of the world:

  • The infant mortality rate in the Black community is twice as high as the rate in Cuba.
  • If Black America were its own country, it would rank 16th in the number of people living with HIV.
  • The number of people living with HIV in Washington DC, the capital city of one of the world's most powerful countries in the world, is higher than Port-au-Prince, Haiti (one of the poorest countries in the West).
  • The life expectancy for Black Americans is lower than in the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka.

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During the International AIDS Conference in Mexico, the Institute held a press conference to unveil this report with several leaders from the black community. A little over 100 media journalists, community activists, educators, conference attendees and advocates attended the press conference. The message was passionate and urgent, calling for leadership and for every sector of the U.S. community to step up and respond to this national epidemic with the same sense of urgency and planning as the global response.

After attending the press conference and reading the report, I was angry, frustrated and sad. Why are my people being ignored? Why is my country spending more time and money on problems outside our own backyard, when our own communities and neighborhoods are falling apart, crying for help? The press conference made me think -- what's going on with the black community? Why are we hating each other, fueling this epidemic by turning a blind eye to the homophobia and violence that tears us down and kills us? Why are women finding out that they are HIV positive after they have been in 10- to 15-year long marriages and relationships, remaining faithful to their partners? How do our young men learn to be more respectful and loving towards women -- when all they see is women being degraded and disrespected? Our community, our neighborhoods, our family is broken -- our government has forgotten about us and we must demand to be noticed.

In the face of a historical moment and change in this country, I hope that we will all take a moment to look around and see how HIV is impacting our friends, neighbors and family. Who are we to pass judgment, lend a helping hand and try to solve other people's problems, when our own house is a mess? We can also learn from others -- in our time of healing and repairing we can be leaders and followers.

Let's not be Left Behind ...

You can obtain a copy of the Left Behind report by contacting:

Black AIDS Institute
1833 West Eighth Street, #200
Los Angeles, CA 90057
Tel: (213) 353-3610
www.BLACKAIDS.org

Want to read more articles in the December 2008 issue of WORLD Newsletter? Click here.



  
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This article was provided by Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases. It is a part of the publication WORLD Newsletter. Visit WORLD's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
 
See Also
TheBody.com's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
HIV and Me: An African American's Guide to Living With HIV
More HIV/AIDS-Related Resources for the African-American Community

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