Like so many other social problems, the AIDS epidemic is most destructive to those members of society, who are most vulnerable because it is a pattern of poverty and social neglect.
AIDS is the No. 1 cause of death for Black women ages 25 to 44, beating out heart disease, cancer and homicide. When AIDS emerged 25 years ago, it was branded a gay white man’s disease.
Even though it was a leading cause of African American deaths from 1990 through 2000, it wasn’t until 1999 that first National Conference on AIDS explored AIDS as a Black issue, A U.S. study in 2006 showed that Black women are 23 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white women.
From the epidemic’s start, Black people have been disproportionately likely to test positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. African American men, women, and children now account for 51 percent of new HIV diagnosis, although we make up 13 percent of the U.S. population.
As the years have continued, this disease has hit the Black community hard and has rapidly become a Black disease.
Often buried within the statistics of the general AIDS population, or lumped together with Black men, the statistics on how this disease affects Black women are startling.
There are several factors associated with the vulnerability of women. Biologically women are more likely to contract HIV through sex. Studies show that the virus passes from men to a woman much more easily than from women to men, followed by injection drug use.
Some women may be unaware of their male partner’s risks factors for HIV infection, such as unprotected sex with multiple partners, sex with men, or injection drug use. Male dominance, reinforced by societal norms, reduces women’s ability to protect themselves from infection.
Drug and alcohol abuse is a factor, either through inability to make healthy decisions, or where sex is traded for money or drugs.
On Saturday, July 25, the Oakland chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women (NCBW) will sponsor a free forum at The Linen Life Gallery at 770 E.14th St. in San Leandro. from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The forum “Sistahs getting real about HIV/AIDS ” will discuss effective interventions to reduce risk behaviors among African American women.
Expected guests are Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Senator Lonnie Hancock and San Francisco Assemblymember Tom Ammiano.
NCBW was founded in 1971 by a group of dedicated women in New York City who initially began meeting in their homes, to assess the problems and opportunities left behind in the wake of the turbulent1960s. These meetings resulted in founding and forming the Coalition of 100 Black Women, with over 7,00 members today.
The Oakland chapter was chartered in 1995 and is one of 63 chapters within the U.S. NCBW is an organization of progressive women of African descent whose voice and force fight for gender equity and social political advancements to drive meaningful change to benefit women of color.
To RSVP for the July 25 event, visit www.onehundredblackwomen.com.