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Dr. David Ho, an HIV/AIDS specialist, draws blood from Magic Johnson, one of the people featured in Endgame: AIDS in Black America.

Dr. David Ho, an HIV/AIDS specialist, draws blood from Magic Johnson, one of the people featured in Endgame: AIDS in Black America.

Senator Emil Jones Legislation Helps the Fight Against the Spread of HIV/AIDs

By Eleana Elon

Contrary to popular belief though not spoken many believe that AIDs has disappeared  or certainly pose no threat. Well think again friends, in the United States alone, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a health crisis of major proportions  especially in the African-American community. Because Magic Johnson has defied the original life expectancy of the HIV virus and those living with AIDs too many have  thrown caution to the wind and are living dangerously while putting others at grave risks.  Blacks are a unique group when it comes to how we communicate and share information as well as how we perceive the medical /healthcare industries. So when Blacks actually see or witness Magic Johnson alive and well they assume he’s cured. What most do not realize  is that his life has been extended because of the medical attention that he receives. The current developments in medicine allow for HIV/AIDs patients to have some semblance of a normal existence if diagnosed early. In spite of the availability of information and the aggressive actions to inform and educate the community to be HIV/AIDS aware we have remained ignorant/ignoring the information that can help prevent falling victim to HIV/AIDs.

Of the more than 1 million people in the U.S. infected with HIV, nearly half are Black men, women and children — even though Blacks make up about 13 percent of the population. AIDS is the primary killer of African-Americans ages 19 to 44, and the mortality rate is 10 times higher for Black Americans than for whites.

 According to Robert Fullilove, a professor of clinical sociomedical studies at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and chairman of the HIV/AIDS advisory committee at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; “In 1986, roughly 20 percent of all of the people in the United States who were living with AIDS were African-American.  2012 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that 45 percent of all the new cases of HIV infection are amongst African-Americans.  If we continue on the current trend, in the year 2015, especially in the South, it will probably be the case that 5 to 6 percent of all African-American adults who are sexually active will be infected with the virus.”

Well folks here we are 2015 with AIDS aggressively progressive amongst our people killing off so many.

Prevention Challenges

In 2013, 21,836 African Americans were diagnosed with HIV, comprising the largest percentage (46%) of the estimated 47,352 diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States when viewed by race/ethnicity. The rate of HIV diagnoses among African Americans (55.9/100,000 people) was similarly disproportionate.

In 2013, an estimated 13,172 African Americans were diagnosed with AIDS in the United States. By the end of 2012, an estimated 270,726 African Americans diagnosed with AIDS had died in the United States.

African Americans face a number of challenges that contribute to the higher rates of HIV infection. The greater number of people living with HIV (prevalence) in African American communities and the fact that African Americans tend to have sex with partners of the same race/ethnicity means that they face a greater risk of HIV infection with each new sexual encounter.

African American communities continue to experience higher rates of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) compared with other racial/ethnic communities in the United States. Having an STI can significantly increase the chance of getting or transmitting HIV.

Lack of awareness of HIV status can affect HIV rates in communities. Almost 73,600 HIV-infected people in the African American community in 2011 were unaware of their HIV status. Diagnosis late in the course of HIV infection is common, which results in missed opportunities to get early medical care and prevent transmission to others.

The poverty rate is higher among African Americans than other racial/ethnic groups. The socioeconomic issues associated with poverty—including limited access to high-quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education—directly and indirectly increase the risk for HIV infection, and affect the health of people living with and at risk for HIV. These factors may explain why African Americans have worse outcomes on the HIV continuum of care, including lower rates of linkage to care, retention in care, being prescribed HIV treatment, and viral suppression. Stigma, fear, discrimination, homophobia, and negative perceptions about HIV testing can also place too many African Americans at higher risk. Many at risk for HIV fear discrimination and rejection more than infection and may choose not to seek testing even though today it is easier than ever.

The Roseland community, part of State Senator Emil Jones III’s district (Chicago – 14), has among the highest rates of AID/ HIV in the city. In an effort to fight this dangerous life threatening disease, Senator Jones supported a measure to extend a program that allows health care professionals to notify a spouse or civil union partner when HIV test results are positive.

“Informing people of their HIV/AIDs status is pivotal to stopping this deadly disease from spreading,” said Senator Jones. “If people aren’t aware that they are at possible risk of having HIV, then the chances of it turning into full blown AIDs are much more likely.”

Currently, no person may order an HIV test without first receiving documented informed consent.

Health care facilities that administer HIV testing may offer opt-out testing where the patient or their representative has been informed unless he or she refuses.

House Bill 1004 recently passed out of committee unanimously and will now be debated before the full Senate.

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