San Mateo County Times Online - African Americans with HIV/AIDS: A Protracted War: The mean stretch of San Pablo Avenue heading up towards 30th Street in Oakland is where the county's HIV emergency is most glaring. [...] This Wednesday marks the fifth anniversary of Alameda County becoming the first municipality in the nation to declare a state of emergency on HIV/AIDS among African Americans. The state of emergency was meant to bring money and awareness to the epidemic - at a time when 41 percent of infections were among African Americans, who make up only 18 percent of the county's overall population. It was also intended to lower infection rates and provide better treatment for those who already had the disease.
Activists and county officials who work day in and day out on this issue point to significant accomplishments over the past five years. People with the disease are living longer, fuller lives. And the community is more aware of how to prevent it. Local groups have more forums to strategize together.
But the five-year anniversary won't come with any fanfare or celebration. African Americans in the county are being infected at even more disproportionate rates than five years ago. In 2002, half or more of the local AIDS cases were among African Americans, compared to 42 percent in 1998, when the emergency was declared. And while the number of AIDS cases peaked in 1992 and continues to decline, case rates in Alameda County exceed state and national rates, according to county figures. Even more at risk today are African American women, who account for 65 percent of all women in the county with AIDS. These women are primarily contracting the disease through heterosexual sex with male partners, though IV drug use remains a consistent source of infection. Latinos, too, are catching up, accounting for 20 percent of AIDS cases, about on par with the percentage of cases among whites. [...] One problem with securing services is that no one is sure how many HIV-positive people are in the Bay Area. Most available figures are AIDS cases, though experts agree that AIDS rates no longer reflect the true picture of the epidemic. An estimated 800,000 to 900,000 people in California are HIV-positive, according to the state Department of Health Services. In 1997, the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the number infected in Alameda County at possibly 7,000 people. But anecdotal evidence suggests that number could be much higher. This summer, Highland Hospital did a pilot project on the new OraQuick rapid HIV test, which gives results in 20 minutes, compared to traditional tests that typically take a week. The hospital tested high-risk patients, such as pregnant women who had received no prenatal care, men who have sex with men, and injection drug users. Out of 100 people tested, 15 came up positive, a rate the state and the hospital found astonishingly high. Other anecdotes: Tri-City Health in Fremont recently tested 50 youth, and got 5 positives. Calhoun recalls testing people in East Oakland one day in 2001 and getting a 7 percent positive rate out of 150 people.
So it's possible that between 7-15% of high risk people in the Bay Area are infected. Most of them probably don't even know.
And, of course, there's no particular reason that Oakland and environs would be unique in this matter. You could probably find similar infection rates in high risk areas of New York, or Los Angeles, or Chicago.
Africans, blacks share AIDS burden, some say (The Tennessean, October 17, 2003): The devastating economic and social toll that HIV and AIDS exact on sub-Saharan Africa mirrors the disproportionate burden the disease places on blacks here in the United States, said attendees at the 10th annual PanAfrica Conference, which began yesterday in Nashville. ''The face of HIV in America is increasingly black,'' said Dr. Kenneth Robinson, commissioner of the state Department of Health. ''You are not alone in your pandemic of HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.'' [...] In the United States, blacks constitute 12% of the population but accounted for half of the new HIV infections in 2001, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vice Mayor Howard Gentry said the lack of access to care that is prevalent in Africa occurs to a lesser extent in rural and poor populations in Tennessee. Other factors thought to contribute to the disproportionately high rates among African Americans include:
• Denial that makes black men who have sex with men less likely to acknowledge their risk for infection and pass the disease on to their partners.
• Drug abuse and high overall rates of sexually transmitted disease infection, which makes it easier for HIV infection to occur.
And leave us not forget poverty and lack of education, as mentioned above in the first article.Posted by iain at November 03, 2003 11:39 AM