ATLANTA – A new report issued by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention shows HIV infections rates continue to be on the rise in the African-American community. According to the report, published in the March 9 edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, African-American men and women account for over half of newly diagnosed cases of HIV infection from 2001 to 2005, despite the fact that they represent only 13 percent of the country’s population.
In addition, black men and women accounted for more than 50 percent of the newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases in the U.S. from 2001 to 2005. The report also found that African Americans accounted for 40 percent of AIDS-related deaths, as well as an astounding 61 percent of new AIDS diagnoses among people ages 13 to 24.
The report has stirred the ire of Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, who released a statement last week.
“Although this new report by the CDC is an informative tool for us to understand the growing impact of HIV/AIDS on minority communities, the real issue here is inadequate funding to combat this alarming trend,” Solmonese said. “We urge the Administration to immediately resolve the delay in the delivery of Minority AIDS Initiative funding. The CDC report underscores what all of us in the HIV/AIDS community already know, that the lives of too many Americans are being lost due to the misplaced priorities of the Bush Administration.”
Locally, members of the HIV prevention and outreach community concurred that while infuriating, the report is really old hat.
It’s alarming news, but it’s not new news, particularly to us who are working on the front lines,” said Hank Millbourne, associate executive director of AIDS Partnership Michigan. “We have seen a disproportionate number of cases in African Americans for a quite a long while. And while the rates are alarming and disproportionate, it’s not uniformly distributed across the country, but it’s in mainly urban areas where we’re seeing greater rates of HIV.”
Like Solmonese, Royale Theus, program director for the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project, called on Washington to address and adequately fund the HIV/AIDS crisis in the African-American community, particularly as it relates to youth.
“Our clueless leadership wants to give millions of dollars for abstinence until marriage programs,” he said. “Obviously, if they’re becoming infected, the numbers show that adolescents age 13-24 are having sex. We need more than one or two agencies in a community doing prevention education. We need to move beyond the Stone Age mentality of ‘waiting until marriage’ because it’s not reality. We need to put the money where it is needed.”
To view the full report, visit http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/