July 8, 2008
America’s Southern Black “AIDS Apartheid”
In an essay published in the political journal The American Prospect, writer Kai Wright calls for increased attention to AIDS among America’s black community—particularly those in the prison system—and a refocused assessment on domestic access to care for people living with HIV (prospect.org, 7/8).
“What was once considered an urban, coastal epidemic—centered in gay havens like New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles—is now a surprisingly rural, Southern one,” Wright says. “More than half of all new infections logged between 2001 and 2004 were found in the South. Those infections are far more likely to be found among Southerners who are black, low-income and diagnosed with advanced conditions they do not have the resources to control.”
To counteract this trend, Wright suggests that more federal funding be allocated to prevention programs besides HIV testing and urges the country’s leaders to finally adopt a national plan to fight AIDS in the U.S.
“The recurring funding shortages are owed in part to the same ideological nickel-and-diming that’s undermined a wide range of domestic programs in the Bush era,” he writes. “But it is also clear that America has never come to grips with the fact that AIDS demands a comprehensive, ongoing public-health commitment, rather than finger-in-the-dam, emergency measures. Here’s a telling fact: The U.S. has never had an overarching national plan for responding to AIDS, something that we make a prerequisite for any poorer country seeking foreign aid to deal with its own epidemic.”
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