Perspective: Too Many African-Americans Are Dying As A Result Of HIV/AIDS, Know Your Status

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Tuesday of this past week marked National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. On the “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” I talked to Phil Wilson, the president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute. Phil and I go way back, because I’ve helped them on many issues when it comes to this story, even moderating various events.

Why is it important for us to focus on this? Because the reality is AIDS — the face of AIDS is now that of a Black, heterosexual woman. But one of the things that we talked about on the show is what is happening on HBCU campuses all across this country. A couple of years ago, the CDC released a study that showed an alarming rate of AIDS infections on HBCU campuses, especially in the South.

African-Americans cannot be quiet about this, because what is happening is you’re seeing far too many young people dying at early ages as a result of HIV/AIDS in this country. We’re not getting tested. We don’t know our status. And then also, we’re not getting treatment. What is important for all of us — whether you are straight, whether you are gay, whether you’re in the Church, whether you’re in the home — is to not sit here and act like this doesn’t exist. Folks, this is not the 1980s. This is not a question of what is happening when it comes to White, gay men. What is happening is we are seeing women, we’re seeing young men, we’re seeing people, we’re seeing senior citizens who are contracting AIDS, and it’s a result of people not having the education.

And so what is important for you [is] to make sure that you get tested and know your status and be willing to ask your sons and your daughters and your aunts and uncles have they been tested. This is a 100 percent preventable disease. The question is, are we going to stand up and hold ourselves and each other accountable?

AIDS Day for African-Americans was Tuesday. That’s one day. It should be, for us, every day.

That’s my perspective. What’s yours?

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