July 30, 2008
African-American AIDS Epidemic vs. Africa
If black America were its own nation, it would have the 16th-highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world, The New York Times reports (nytimes.com, 7/30). The Black AIDS Institute (BAI), an advocacy group, highlighted this and other HIV-related disparities affecting the African-American community in a report published July 29.
According to the BAI report, nearly 600,000 African Americans are living with HIV/AIDS, with up to 30,000 new infections being reported each year. Adjusted for age, the African-American death rate is two and a half times that of HIV-positive whites.
The United Nations also issued a report ahead of the 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, held August 3–8. According to the Times, the U.N. report shows that overall AIDS-related deaths are down worldwide, largely due to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
According to the BAI report, there are more African Americans living with HIV than the infected populations in Botswana, Ethiopia, Guyana, Haiti, Rwanda and Vietnam—nearly half the countries receiving HIV treatment and prevention services through PEPFAR.
“America itself has no strategic plan to combat its own epidemic,” the BAI report says. “American policy makers behave as if AIDS exists ‘elsewhere’—as if the AIDS problems has been effectively solved.”
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