FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

AIDS in Black America

by RALPH NADER

George W. Bush-the master of fabricated distractions-as with the false pretense invasion of Iraq-has turned the national television news media away from the United States.

So it was a sobering reversal of direction to watch ABC’s August 24th Primetime Special Edition “Out of Control: AIDS in Black America.” It marked the 25th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS and the last documentary that the late Peter Jennings worked to put on the air.

With 13 percent of the U.S. population, black Americans constitute over 50 percent of all new cases of HIV. This infection rate is eight times the rate of whites. It gets worse. Almost 70 percent of new female cases of HIV-positive women are black women who are a stunning 13 times more likely to be diagnosed with AIDS than white women. Black women get AIDS overwhelmingly through heterosexual contact, the documentary reported.

Terry Moran, who did a fine job as anchor, interviewed black leaders working on AIDS and infectious disease specialists to find out why, in very candid exchanges.

In summary:

(1) infection comes more heavily to the black community due to high rates of HIV-positive men coming out of prison,

(2) drug addiction and the widespread use of dirty needles,

(3) the taboo against talking about the problem of homosexual-related AIDS transmission in many black religious circles and

(4) the absence of any comprehensive AIDS prevention and treatment programs that reach the netherworld of community-wide poverty, despair and lack of information.

Still, the attentive viewer would want to know more. Moran obliged. He asked Jesse Jackson and others why prominent black leaders do not highlight this disaster more than they do, or as they do for the AIDS epidemic in Africa. One reply was that there are so many disasters afflicting black America that attention to one takes away from the other.

Moran then showed a clip of a sermon by well-known Rev. Calvin Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City. “You can’t sleep with everyone you want to sleep with,” bewailed a tormented Rev. Butts.

It is not as if whites are much less drug-addicted. But there is a disproportionate percentage of black men in jail where homosexual contact is the HIV transmitter. Moran pointed to studies from the Universities of Chicago and North Carolina which conclude that black men are more than twice as likely as white men to have multiple female partners.

Still, the disproportions noted in “Out of Control” are so vast between blacks and whites that a deeper condition must be at work here. Call it another vast disproportion. A sub-society of deep poverty, unemployment, despair, street drugs, documented discriminatory law enforcement and prison incarceration rates, the absence of neighborhood public health facilities skilled in addressing the triple needs of testing, prevention and treatment are all incubators without portfolios. A vicious cycle of infection is out of control in these environments.

The social services, such as health coverage, that have restrained the AIDS epidemic among whites are not proportionately there among black communities.

The ABC documentary may be crying out in the wilderness or it may be a wake-up call with its own multiplier effect. Don’t count on the Bush regime, bogged down in the Iraq quagmire and looking for other wars, to take notice. The lead burden will be on black community leaders and an aroused public health profession to turn around our country’s priorities in Congress, the White House, state and local governments, and prod more media attention. On the local and national television news, there is certainly enough trivia to replace.

You may wonder what the fatality count among blacks is each year. Over ten thousand black Americans died from AIDS last year. The family agonies and deprivations are not compiled in these statistics.

 

 

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 22, 2017
Paul Street
Russiagate and the Democratic Party are for Chumps
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer, the Progressive Caucus and the Cuban Revolution
Gavin Lewis
McCarthyite Anti-Semitism Smears and Racism at the Guardian/Observer
Kathy Kelly
Reality and the U.S.-Made Famine in Yemen
Kim C. Domenico
Ending Our Secret Alliance with Victimhood: Toward an Adult Politics
L. Ali Khan
Profiling Islamophobes
Calvin Priest
May Day: Seattle Educators Moving Closer to Strike
David Swanson
Jimmy Breslin on How to Impeach Trump
Dave Lindorff
There Won’t Be Another Jimmy Breslin
Jonathan Latham
The Meaning of Life
Robert Fisk
Martin McGuinness: From “Super-Terrorist” to Super Statesman
Steve Horn
Architect of Federal Fracking Loophole May Head Trump Environmental Council
Binoy Kampmark
Grief, Loss and Losing a Father
Jim Tull
Will the Poor Always Be With Us?
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s “March Massacre” Budget
Joe Emersberger
Rafael Correa and the Future of Ecuador: a Response to James McEnteer
March 21, 2017
Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt
On Being the “Right Kind of Brown”
Kenneth Surin
God, Guns, Gays, Gummint: the Career of Rep. Bad Bob Goodlatte
David Rosen
Popular Insurgencies: Reshaping the Political Landscape
Ryan LaMothe
The Totalitarian Strain in American Democracy
Eric Sommer
The House Intelligence Committee: Evidence Not Required
Mike Hastie
My Lai Massacre, 49 Years Later
James McEnteer
An Era Ends in Ecuador: Forward or Back?
Evan Jones
Beyond the Pale
Stansfield Smith
First Two Months in Power: Hitler vs. Trump
Dulce Morales
A Movement for ‘Sanctuary Campuses’ Takes Shape
Pepe Escobar
Could Great Wall of Iron become New Silk Roadblock?
Olivia Alperstein
Trump Could Start a Nuclear War, Right Now
David Macaray
Norwegians Are the Happiest People on Earth
March 20, 2017
Michael Schwalbe
Tears of Solidarity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit, Nationalism and the Damage Done
Peter Stone Brown
Chuck Berry: the First Poet of Rock and Roll
Paul J. Ramsey
What Trump’s Travel Ban Reveals About His Long-Term Educational Policy
Norman Pollack
Two Nations: Skid Rows vs. Mar-a-Lago
Michael Brenner
The Great Game: Power Politics or Free Play?
Sam Gordon
Falling Rate of Profit, What about Some Alienation?
Jack Random
Sidetracked: Trump Diaries, Week 8
Julian Vigo
The Limits of Citizenship
James Graham
French Elections: a Guide for the Perplexed
Jeff Mackler
The Extraordinary Lynne Stewart
Lee Ballinger
Chuck Berry: “Up in the Morning and Off to School!”
Binoy Kampmark
Romancing Coal: The Adani Obsession
Nyla Ali Khan
Cultural Syncretism in Kashmir
Chad Nelson
The Politics of Animal Liberation: I Can’t Quit You Gary Francione
Weekend Edition
March 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
John Reynolds
Israel and the A-Word
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail