On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasized that African American women are the fastest grouping group of people with HIV/AIDS. The rate of new cases of HIV/AIDS is 19 times greater for black women than white women, and five times greater than Latinas. Poverty is also a risk factor – black women with HIV/AIDS are more likely to be poor and unemployed than black women without AIDS, according to MSNBC.
“HIV/AIDS must be fought in the black community by empowering women, especially young women, to demand the use of the condoms in their relationships, both casual and long term,” said Crystal Lander, director of Campus Programs for the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Too much energy and resources are being spent on trying to blame ‘men on the down low’ for spreading the disease within the black community. HIV/AIDS spreads because of behavior, not people. Whether or not a man is sleeping with another man or another woman, condoms must be used and women must feel empowered to speak up for themselves and their children.”
“It’s about economics, marginalization, racism and sexism,” said Dr. Peter Leone, a researcher at the University of North Carolina who recently conducted a study of African American women and HIV in the state, according to the Palm Beach Post. Debra Fraser-Howe, founding president and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, told the Post that the situation is worsened by inadequate health facilities in black communities and the fact that the federal government has been slow to deal with the crisis.