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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hurricane of H.I.V.

AND WILL THEY SAY nobody could have foreseen the weakness of the levees?

For the first time, Washington D.C. has collected data on H.I.V. and found that in the nation's capital, the "modern epidemic"—as the Washington Post calls it—is now primarily one affecting blacks.

The numbers most starkly illustrate HIV's impact on the African American community. More than 80 percent of the 3,269 HIV cases identified between 2001 and 2006 were among black men, women and adolescents. Among women who tested positive, a rising percentage of local cases, nine of 10 were African American. [...]

The District's AIDS rate is the worst of any city in the country, nearly twice the rate in New York and more than four times the incidence in Detroit, and it has been climbing faster than that of many jurisdictions. [...]

Study Calls HIV in D.C. A 'Modern Epidemic'; More Than 80 Percent Of Recent Cases Were Among Black Residents

And big propz must go to the woman who dares try and change the world, as well as shout out the truth as she lives and sees it:

In the nation's capital, a 24-year-old is helping to lead the fight against AIDS.

Nicole Styles is doing what she can to stop a major health-care crisis — an epidemic, even. This AIDS activist is stepping in where parents, educators and the government have failed, devoting her life to handing out condom kits and trying to persuade people to use them.

Styles is trying to save the lives of kids in the nation's capital, home to the worst HIV/AIDS rate in the country. One in 20 D.C. residents are infected with HIV, and in some neighborhoods, that number is as high as one in 10.

Styles thinks that when these staggering numbers were announced, a state of emergency should have been declared. Instead, she and many others in D.C. suspect that the government's seeming indifference is because 80 percent of those infected are black and most of the others are gay.

Styles believes that if the disease affected white heterosexuals at a rate of one in 20, the city and federal government would have more of a response.

'It would be all over the place. It wouldn't be difficult to obtain information about HIV and AIDS,'she said. 'You wouldn't have to have us standing on every corner trying to get the people, passing out stuff trying to let the community [know] about what's really happening'

Styles' anger and compassion motivated her to join the staff of Metro Teen AIDS, an activist group that offers free and confidential HIV testing and counseling services to youth.

AIDS in DC, Turning Anger into Action

Before my mother became the Director of Public Health for an unnamed New York county, H.I.V. prevention (Infection Control) was her area. And it was her job to break this news to many people, too. I heard a lot about AIDS in this way, when I was younger.

When I think of Africa and how it has been exploited and divided and harmed for so long, I think too of the disgrace called the "US response to Hurricane Katrina." And when Katrina happened, I couldn't help but think of all the Bob Marley lyrics I grew up hearing every day of my young life, about blacks being crammed in slave ships, about people who work and live and die so that an economic giant like the U.S.A. can get its feet underneath it, and who are still living with so much hate and antagonism and resistance to their health. From many directions. Y también, I think of Hurricane Katrina, when I read about the lack of funding and attention given toward educating and helping the black community in the very capital of our nation.

There is no reason any one population—gays, blacks, Mexicans, Indians, Chinese, Koreans, Chileans, Cubans, women, children—should be bearing the brunt of a disease or disaster or a hardship while the rest escape to firm ground. This type of inequality is a direct result of believing in some mystical "Us" and "Them" that will keep these ills from our own doorstep. I do not believe in that divide. I feel all the pains and horrors that come for any of us can come for all of us. (If this were not so, you wouldn't see sudden, unpredictable conversions among the GOP toward stem cell research, scuba outfits, etc.) And it hurts me and actually makes me furious to the point of getting teary to see how black people have been, since time immemorial, the group who bear the most brunt. From so many directions.

It should go without saying that we should all care about all of us. And further, that any HIV proliferation is a threat to all of us, everywhere. But the time has long past arrived for us all to stand and fight to make things better for those worse off than others. The poor, the gays, the hunted migrants, mujeres, blacks, the illiterate, the hungry, the voiceless. I do believe in working to thrive, and getting ahead, and succeeding. I made my bones up in this place, aqui, in the U.S.A.! But we must not hop on the first fast boat and flee far from the wreckage around us. We must look to save those in the deep tides, and we must stand with the most maligned and hunted of our species. In this way, and only in this way, can we hope to redeem our kind in the face of the deeds of the worst of us.

Don't give up the fight!
—Bob Marley

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez blogs as the unapologetic mexican, and is fishing for rainbow trout in the neighbor's porcelain birdfeeder.

Crossposted at The Unapologetic Mexican, Culture Kitchen, and Corrente.

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