aids, council, minority, national, san francisco

National Minority AIDS Council

Today, as I was browsing through Facebook, I noticed an email from the National Minority AIDS Council.

Here’s what they had to say:

“The United States Conference on AIDS (USCA), set for October 29-31, 2009, at the Hilton San Francisco Hotel, in San Francisco, California, is an event that you cannot miss.
The largest AIDS-related gathering in the United States, over 3,000 workers from all fronts of the HIV/AIDS epidemic—from case managers and physicians, to public health workers and advocates, people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) to policymakers—come together to build national support networks, exchange the latest information and learn cutting- edge tools to address the challenges of HIV/AIDS.
We hope you will be one of them.

HIV/AIDS in Communities of Color:

  • Since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began over 25 years ago, HIV/AIDS has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color across the United States.
  • African Americans represent nearly 50% of all new HIV infections reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year, though they compose only 13% of the U.S. population.
  • Over half of the people in the U.S. who have died of AIDS since the epidemic began in 1981 have been black.
  • AIDS is one of the leading causes of death overall among people of African descent, and is the number one killer of black women aged 25-34.

  • For black MSM: A CDC study of MSM found that 46% of the black MSM tested for HIV were positive, compared to 21% of the white MSM and 17% of the Hispanic MSM.
  • Latinos, who account for nearly 20% of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses reported to the CDC annually, have a rate of infection that is 3 times higher for males and 5 times higher for females than for their white, non-Hispanic counterparts.

  • The opening plenary of the United States Conference on AIDS will be dedicated to Latinos.

  • HIV/AIDS numbers related to Latinos often do not include Puerto Rico, which has reported high rates of HIV infection. The efforts of Puerto Rico’s AIDS agencies have been hampered by controversial issues around government funding.
  • Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans/Alaska Natives also are reporting rising HIV/AIDS rates.

Why is HIV and AIDS so high among minorities?
  • Ethnicity, in itself, is not a risk factor for HIV/AIDS; however, the social, economic, educational and political disenfranchisement experienced by many African Americans nationwide have helped fuel HIV infections in black communities.

  • Young people in general don’t know they are at risk.

  • The media has given the impression that AIDS is happening elsewhere.
  • Strong stigmas around sexuality and mistrust of health care institutions in many communities of color present barriers to HIV/AIDS outreach, education, testing, treatment and care.

Isn’t AIDS a manageable disease, like diabetes?

  • To some extent, yes – people living with HIV/AIDS, especially when they have access to treatment, are enjoying longer lives.
  • No one living with HIV/AIDS would advise others to risk becoming positive. AIDS drugs are very powerful and have many side-effects – from short-term memory loss to lipid displacement to facial wasting. Some of these side-effects can seriously undermine your health – especially when coupled with other illnesses, such as hepatitis, diabetes, heart disease, etc.
  • Once you start drug therapy, you can never stop.”

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