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U.S. News

AIDS Epidemic Is Far From Being Over

December 1, 2009

"When I sit down for Thanksgiving dinner with my family, as a person having lived with HIV for 29 years now, I'm thankful for a lot of things. I'm thankful that I have had the love and support of family and friends, and access to proper medical care that have kept me alive all these years. I'm thankful that HIV today is diagnosable, preventable, and treatable.

"Today, knowing your HIV status has never been easier. An HIV test today is free, painless, easy, quick, and you get information that might save your life. I'm thankful about that.

"HIV is completely preventable. The primary mode of HIV transmission in the United States is unprotected sexual contact. If we all commit to protecting ourselves all the time, we would break the back of the epidemic. So, what does that mean? It means delaying sexual contact until you are ready, you really know your partner, and you've had a conversation about your hopes and dreams, and about HIV/AIDS.

"It means, once you know you are both negative, protecting the sanctity of your relationship by being faithful. And it means being responsible for your own health by using a condom when you engage in sexual contact. While there is no cure for HIV, it is no longer the automatic death sentence it once was. There are treatments available that can control the virus and help people with HIV live healthy lives. And the treatments are getting easier to take and less toxic all the time. I'm thankful for that.

"But let's not get it twisted: The AIDS epidemic is far from being over, especially in black communities. So, on my Christmas list this year, in addition to a cure for AIDS, I'm adding that black America take ownership of the AIDS epidemic. When we are around 50 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS in America, 50 percent of new HIV cases, and 50 percent of the annual AIDS-related deaths, AIDS is about our people. It is our problem and we have to be in the leadership in the development of any solution to the issue.

"Black people have been greater than any challenge we've confronted in the past. We were greater than the Middle Passage. We were greater than slavery. We were greater than the Reconstruction and Jim Crow. We were greater than racism, and we are greater than AIDS as well."

The author is founder and executive director of the Black AIDS Institute.

Back to other news for December 2009

Adapted from:
The Afro-American (Baltimore)
11.24.2009; Phill Wilson

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
HIV and Me: An African American's Guide to Living With HIV
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More Views on HIV Prevention in the African-American Community


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