AIDS, Black Women and Black Prisoners

Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Women of color are especially affected by HIV infection and AIDS according to the CDC*. HIV infection was the leading cause of death for black women (including African American women) aged 25–34.

African-Americans aret 12 percent of the United States’ population, but are about half of all new infections and deaths from H.I.V./AIDS. In a recent speech deemed to be true by On the Issues* Hillary Clinton said, “If HIV/AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country.”

The New York Times reported*** “Given that men who have sex with men account for a majority of H.I.V. cases among both black and white men, the spike in H.I.V. infections among black women has perplexed public health officials” . Is it because of drugs? The article goes on to suggest that “higher rates of H.I.V. among men who have been in prison may raise the risk of infection in their community”. The NAACP**** reports that together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population.

Given that condoms are not given out in prison, injectable drugs and tattoos are also present, and after release prisoners are likely to have goo health care and are in “communities of denial” it is very likely that the higher incarceration of people of color will lead to a disproportionate rate of HIV infection in women of color. This is also a function of the fact that men seeking men for sex have no counterpart in women.

So, the homophobic and racist “blame the victim” attitudes, which have no roots in facts, since blacks are no more prevalent than others to have bisexual encounters or riskier health actions, dorve are wrong and steroprofiles.

So whats to be done? Some legislation has adressed the rapes and assaults in prison but are not enforced.

The “New Jim Crow” criminal justice outrages should be adressed sooner than later for this and other attacks on people of color.

The mission of the NA is to “resist racism” and the problems described here is part of our raison d’entre!


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