Unfortunate fact⎯African Americans, more than any other racial group, are more likely to become affected by HIV/AIDS. Since it was first discovered in the early 1980s, the face of HIV/AIDS has changed shifted from gay predominately white men and now is now a face of color. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), African Americans represent only 14 percent of the U.S. population, but account more than 44 percent of HIV/AIDS cases.
Los Angeles-based the Black AIDS Institute has decided to spearhead an analysis of the recent International AIDS Day event that took place this summer in Washington, D.C. A sixteen-city tour ⎯ “Ending AIDS in Black Communities” ⎯ hit those urban areas heavily populated with African Americans as a result of the analysis. The “Post AIDS 2012” updates are geared at having a conversation and educating the community about what was learned.
Phill Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, said these community updates are incredibly crucial to offsetting HIV/AIDS in African Americans. Wilson, who has suffered from HIV for 32 years, added that people need to go, get tested and become proactive about treatment if positive.
“AIDS is still a major problem in the black community,” Wilson told the Defender.
More than 21,000 Chicagoans are living with HIV/AIDS, 71 percent of which are minorities, according to AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Women represented three out of every four HIV cases in Illinois.
Wilson suggested that those living with AIDS pay close attention to the Affordable Healthcare Act introduced by President Barack Obama. The ramifications of doing away with act would affect millions.
“Get involved with this election,” Wilson said. More than 25 million people, some of which are infected with HIV, he said. And the 39 percent of new cases under 25, would still be able to seek out medicines that could make their viral load seem undetectable similar to high profile cases like Magic Johnson under the healthcare bill.
“We need to start advocating on a federal and state level immediately to fully implement an Affordable Care Act containing the components necessary to serve the needs of people living with HIV,” Wilson said.
While the state of HIV/AIDS treatment has changed as science progressed. But at one point Wilson said that he knew someone who was dying from the disease everyday.
That’s one of the main reasons he became more active in HIV/AIDS advocacy.
“No one is going to die on my watch,” Wilson said.