|The Black Community Locally, According to WUWF, is over-represented with cases of HIV/AIDS. According to WebMD, the highest risk behaviors that lead to such infections are unprotected male homosexual sex, unprotected sex with multiple partners, and intravenous drug abuse.|
February is Black History Month, and February 7th is Black HIV/AIDS awareness day.
In this very alarming radio piece--some sobering statistics were given:
In the four-county area (Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton Counties)--just over 2,000 persons are currently infected with HIV/AIDS. Of this total, 65% of these cases are in Escambia County.
Sadly, the Black community is over-represented in this category of persons afflicted with HIV--in fact the guest on the show stated "It is still an epidemic" in the Black community.
Blacks make up just 15% of Florida's population--yet Blacks account for 50% of the AIDS Infections statewide, according to this program.
Escambia County's Black Population is about 23%--yet Blacks account for more than 50% of the HIV/AIDS cases in Escambia County according to the WUWF piece.
Interestingly, not much was discussed during the program as to the "why" Blacks appear to be overrepresented in this category. The guest on the show stated that many people purposely do not get tested for HIV/AIDS because they "Don't want to know their status." Many agencies offer free and confidential screening for this disease--yet those at high risk continue to avoid being tested.
So why this overrepresentation that acutely affects the Black Community? Could the reason be the
same reason why other areas of society see overrepresentation?
Sitting as a school board member for 10 years, I noticed the acute overrepresentation of Blacks in discipline referrals locally in our schools, and this trend is mirrored in public schools nationwide. This is well documented yet some people and some organizations continually blame schools and administrators and teachers for this overrepresentation--saying students of color are "targeted" institutionally.
Of course I vehemently disagree with this conclusion--I think that line of thinking is delusional rubbish.
In the criminal justice arena, Blacks are overrepresented in prison populations nationwide, and this is well documented. In the justice system, calls for reform imply that the "system" is to blame for the overrepresentation of Blacks in the criminal justice system, and calls are made to reform sentencing and re-address punishments to minimize incarceration rates.
But is it the system? Is it the schools?
Could the real reason for this overrepresentation in HIV/AIDS be the same reason for each of these other areas of overrepresentation (prison populations, violent crime commissions, school discipline referrals)? Could social dysfunction and the implosion of the family-unit be to blame for all of these symptoms that are seen?
Could nearly 3 of 4 babies being born to fatherless households in some communities be the largest part of the problem? I certainly think that is a plausible explanation. That, combined with the abandonment of religion combined with the denial of the concept of personal responsibility among many groups could be the toxic combination that is leading to these societal/medical problems.
Nobody will say for sure--it simply becomes much easier and comfortable to posit alternative explanations that do not make people uncomfortable. Just blame poverty, that's what many will do.
Regardless of the reason (s) for this overrepresentation of AIDS cases in the Black community locally and statewide, though, I do strongly agree with the presenter and her guest when they stated that more education on HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention needs to be provided in schools. I think this could help and I am considering bringing this topic to the upcoming joint BCC/ECSB meeting in March.
We have to do all we can to address this problem that is taking a huge toll on the local community.