Aids In The African American Community

1309 words - 6 pages

AIDS/HIV affects everyone across all racial and sexual lines, but it has greatly affected African Americans. AIDS is now the leading cause of death for African American men from thirty-five to forty-four years of age and is the second leading cause of death among African American women between the ages of twenty five and thirty-four, according to the 2001 National Vital Statistics Report. In a multisite study of 1,767 men having sex with men (MSM) from five cities (Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Miami), 450 men tested positive for HIV. Although African American MSM (AAMSM) represented only 25 percent of the five-city sample, their seroprevalence rate was 46 percent of ...view middle of the document...

Although women experience discrimination based on gender and socioeconomic status, African American women, and by extension other women of color, must deal with the combined factors of gender, race, and socioeconomic status. Concurrent to this struggle, African American women must actively seek to save themselves by valuing their bodies and their lives through self-empowerment and aggressive self-protection.
In addition to the prevalence rates of the disease in the community, caregivers of people living with HIV/AIDS continue to be challenged as they strive to provide care and support to love ones. There is no one that they feel that they can trust to give the adequate care that their loved ones may need. Negative experiences about healthcare givers as well as health institutions also have an impact on these caregivers. These experiences included situations where caregivers or other community members had encounters that included poor health outcomes or disrespectful encounters with health personnel and these may because the personnel did not look like them. This problem can be solved by African American caregivers accessing information about available community resources via informal and confidential consultations with known African American professionals and people involved with grass roots organizations in the community. Examples of these professionals that can be helpful are African American registered nurses, social workers, attorneys and physicians that live in the same community as the caregivers and their families.
But what about Black leaders in the community? In Boundaries of Blackness, Cathy Cohen not only points to the white power structure as a culprit in the marginalization of blacks, but she also accuses blacks of policing other blacks. According to Cohen, black AIDS victims are also marginalized by indigenous black leaders, who have been reticent in the fight against AIDS. She refers to this type of behavior on the part of black elites as secondary marginalization. Secondary marginalization occurs when black leaders police less powerful members of the black community. Cohen argues that black leaders fail to address such problems as AIDS, because these issues are cross-cutting and differ from traditional civil rights concerns which have historically affected a larger segment of the black community. For Cohen, issues that impact the black community at-large are considered to be consensus issues, while cross-cutting issues can be defined as those issues that "disproportionately and directly affect only certain segments of a marginal group". Cohen argues that the AIDS issue has not gained contagion in the black community because it serves as a cross-cutting issue. Hence, despite the strong racial identity possessed by many blacks, AIDS is not seen to be a consensus issue for which a large segment of blacks would benefit. In other words, AIDS is not perceived to be an issue for which blacks should take ownership. Rather, AIDS is...

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