The Cost and Causalities of Silence: HIV/AIDS in Black America
November 20, 2009
"There is a terrible and terrifying creature stalking the black community night and day. This terrible and terrifying creature is called HIV/AIDS, and it has come to our community and is consuming our life energy and undermining our future. It is now the number-one killer of our people between the ages of 22-45.
"To save and protect the lives of our children and people as a whole, there are several things we must do.
"First, we must embrace the victims for who they are -- above all, members of our community and families, our friends and fellow human beings, deserving the respect we are all due as bearers of dignity and divinity.
"Second, we must practice an ethics of care and responsibility for the ill and vulnerable among us.
"Third, we must urge our leaders, organizations, and especially our religious institutions to take up this issue in a serious and sustained manner.
"Fourth, we must each of us help to build a national conversation about this most deadly disease. This will include an honest discussion of the varied sexual practices people engage in secretly and openly.
"Fifth, we must urge testing as a key strategy for detection and prevention of its spreading. Testing is especially important for men in jail and prison who have engaged in high-risk activity and who will be reintegrating back into their families and community.
"Sixth, also, we must organize to struggle for more resources to deal with this horrible crisis.
"Seventh and finally, we must realize and act on the knowledge that we are our own resources and rescuers. Indeed, it is our efforts which are decisive in any struggle we wage. 'For a people that cannot save itself is lost forever.'
"This is a fundamental point in the struggle against HIV/AIDS. We must repair our own selves, raise ourselves from the ruins of disease and oppression, hold ourselves and others responsible, and together build the community and world we all want and deserve to live in."
The author is the National Action Network project director for the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative.
New York Beacon
10.08.2009; Tony Wafford