(FinalCall.com) – Thirty years ago a strange, new, deadly disease was diagnosed that was reported as mainly affecting gay White men. However, the ilness, even then was stalking Blacks in Africa and poor communities more than other victims.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic affects over 34 million people worldwide today.
December 1 was World AIDS Day and while activists note some progress in lowering infections, more research, more funding, more prevention and more education, HIV/AIDS is still killing Blacks around the world at alarming rates.
“When new infections among young Black gay men increase by nearly 50 percent in three years, we need to do more to show them that their lives matter. When Latinos are dying sooner than other groups, and when Black women feel forgotten, even though they account for most of the new cases among women, then we’ve got to do more,” said President Barack Obama addressing an audience at George Washington University, Dec. 1.
And while the Centers for Disease Control notes the number of Blacks diagnosed in the U.S has decreased slowly since 2006, HIV/AIDS is admittedly a Black disease.
In the United States, over 2.1 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. According to the CDC one in 16 Black men and one in 32 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. In 2009, Blacks were 44 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S. though a mere 14 percent of the population.
Internationally, 2.7 million people were newly infected in 2010; a decrease from 3.2 million in 2001, but the disease is still ravaging Africa and the Caribbean. According to the UNAIDS World AIDS Day 2011 report, Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region most heavily affected by HIV with the Caribbean being the second highest region. In 2010, 68 percent of all people living with HIV resided in sub-Saharan Africa, a region with only 12 percent of the global population, said the report. UNAIDS is the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.
“We are at a deciding moment. We have the tools to end the AIDS epidemic in America. We can do more than imagine the end of the epidemic: We can make it happen. We have new diagnostic tools, new surveillance capabilities, new prevention strategies, new treatment options, and a new understanding of how to interrupt acquisition and transmission,” said Phill Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute.
Worldwide the amount of money needed to wage war against the disease and how funds are dispersed to charities, foundations and groups concern Black HIV/AIDS activists.
At a recent U.S. Conference on AIDS held in downtown Chicago in November, the Chicago Crusader reported, “African American activists from around the country have complained about being unable to get treatment to those in the community who need it the most due to cuts in funding.”
According to AVERT, an international HIV/AIDS charity, donations can flow down through as many as three or four other organizations before it reaches the grassroots level.
“It is difficult to judge exactly how much money is lost as it is passed along the funding chain. Comparing the sum of money originally allocated by a donor with the amount that actually reaches the grassroots level does not necessarily give an indication of how much has been ‘lost,’ because a shortfall might just be caused by money being delayed or held up along the way. It is safe to say, though, that a sizable amount of money is often spent before it reaches the end of a large funding chain, mostly with just cause, but occasionally illegitimately,” notes www.avert.org.
President Obama announced plans Dec. 1 to increase funding in the U.S. by another $50 million which pleased Mr. Wilson. The longtime Black HIV/AIDS activist commended the president for agreeing to allocate more funds.
“The question is no longer can we end AIDS? The question is: Do we have the moral will and the political leadership to do it?” said Mr. Wilson.