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by vivrant thang on world aids day

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Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today

In light of World AIDS Day today, Yobachi Boswell over at The Black Perspective has issued a call to black bloggers to use their individual platforms to call attention to the AIDS crisis, particularly the ravaging effects on the Black community. I was so glad to have found his blog in time to get involved in this important effort.

When I was 17, I watched my uncle die of AIDS. I sat in that hospital room and held his hand as he painfully slipped away from us. It’s an image my mind will never erase. Although we were there almost everyday at the end, he died alone. My mother has still not forgiven herself for not being there.

Over the next several years, my great aunt lost all three of her sons to the disease. My uncle and my great aunt’ s sons were first cousins and they all were longtime intravenous drug users. We believe they passed the disease like they passed that needle.

Obviously, AIDS is no longer just a disease affecting drug users and homosexuals, although apparently, a lot of people are still quite ignorant about the facts.  AIDS is becoming known as a “Black disease,” which I take issue with. However, when you see these stats, one is hard-pressed to disagree.

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  • AIDS remains the leading cause of death for Blacks ages 25 to 44, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Blacks make up just 13% of the population of the USA, but they account for 50% of all new cases of HIV.
  • Black women account for 70% of all women with HIV.

Here in Washington, DC, the news gets worse.

  • One in 20 D.C. residents is believed to be HIV-positive, and one in 50 residents has full-blown AIDS.

  • Although blacks account for 57% of the city’s population, they account for 81% of new HIV cases

  • 37 percent of the new cases were a result of heterosexual transmission, compared to 25 percent that resulted from men having sex with men.

These statistics are extremely sobering. Black women, in particular, are dying from this disease. We have got to take responsibility for our own well-being. Several of my friends have never had an HIV test *, even though they haven’t always practiced safe sex. I think that’s ridiculous in this day and age not to know your status. According to BlackAmericaWeb, “more than one million Americans are estimated to be living with HIV, and one-fourth of those individuals are believed to be unaware of their infection, underscoring the need for expanded HIV testing.”

So on this 2007 World AIDS day, I implore everyone who may read this to:

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I know my status, but through research for this post and the ones I’ll post throughout the week, I’ve found there were so many things about the disease that I didn’t know. I suggest taking this anonymous quiz to assess your knowledge and your risk level. Next year, I have plans of joining a nonprofit board and I’m think the population I want to serve are people of color living with HIV and AIDS. I need to get involved. I know my family members looking down on me would be proud.

Here are some HIV and AIDS resources of interest because I just know after reading those statistics that you want to be as informed as possible.

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As I mentioned, I’ll be “black blogging to end AIDS” everyday until Friday, in addition to my regular posts. So please keep reading and commenting. Let me know how AIDS epidemic has affected you. Don’t say it hasn’t. With these kind of statistics, it’s affecting everybody.

I’m signing out with “Visions” by Stevie. It makes me feel good. Hope it does the same for you.

But what I’d like to know
Is could a place like this exist so beautiful
Or do we have to find our wings and fly away
To the vision in our mind?

I’m not one who make believes
I know that leaves are green
They only change to brown when autumn comes around
I know just what I say
Today’s not yesterday
And all things have an ending

* One of the above-mentioned friends informed me that she finally got tested the day before World AIDS day. Have you?

You can find all the posts in this series here.

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