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HIV among African Americans

In the United States, about 1.1 million people live with HIV and about one person in seven of these people is unaware that he or she is infected. When this number is compared to the whole population of the country, the size of the HIV epidemic can be classified as relatively small. The concentration of the infection is among key areas of the population.  For instance, 70% of all the new infections reported on yearly basis occur among gay section of the population. Among the gay community, African American men constitutes the highest percentage of those infected. Equally, heterosexual African American women and transgender women are also unevenly affected. In general African American community accounts for a higher percentage of people living with HI and new infections in comparison to other races in the country. In 2017, despite African American community accounting for 13% of the US population it disproportionately accounted for 43% of all the new HIV diagnoses in the United States (CDC.gov, 2019). In 2017, there were 38,739 new HIV infections and 16,694 of these reported new infections were among the Black Americans (CDC.gov, 2019). It is clear that HIV infection among Black Americans is a huge cause for concern since it affects them more than expected. It is a problem that needs to be addressed sooner than later.

Myths and Misconceptions on HIV/AIDS-HIV among African Americans

Several misconceptions and myths are associated with HIV/AIDS. One of the untrue believes that is common with people is that the disease is transmitted from one person to another by merely being around an individual who is suffering from HIV/AIDS (” Common Misconceptions about HIV | Ending HIV NSW”, 2019).  This opinion is false because researchers conducting research on the disease have established that HIV/AIDS is not transmitted through shaking hands, hugging, kissing, sharing food, or from using the same air when breathing.

Similarly, there has been a misconception in various societies that mosquito bites cause HIV/AIDS (Cold, Health & Disease, 2019).  This belief is also associated with the fact that the people who hold this view are also aware that the virus is transmitted through infected blood. To that end, they subscribe to the idea that insect bites can transfer blood from one person to another and thus act as a platform through which the disease can be spread to a person who is HIV negative. What these people do not have a proper understanding in is that when the insects bite a person, they do not inject the fluid from another individual who they had bitten earlier. Besides, the HIV virus stays for a very short time in the body system of mosquitoes.

Besides, there has been an opinion in several communities that HIV/AIDS is not spread through oral sex AIDS (“Common Misconceptions about HIV | Ending HIV NSW”, 2019). Even though it is true that oral sex does not have a high probability of transmitting the disease, it is still a channel through which the HIV virus can be transferred from one person to another. Research has pointed out that for every ten thousand acts, between zero to four people contact the disease through oral sex.HIV among African Americans

There has also been a belief that it is easy to tell when a person is HIV positive by just looking at the individual (Cold, Health & Disease, 2019). This opinion, which is shared by several people in different communities, considers numerous factors, for instance, if you are slim, the people in that particular community, may view you as being HIV positive.  This method of establishing whether a person has HIV/AIDS is not true because the only sure way of ensuring that a person has AIDS or not is through getting a test.

Equally, there has been a misconception that one needs not to worry about contracting the virus because drugs will always ensure that the person is well (” Common Misconceptions about HIV |AIDS Ending HIV NSW”, 2019).  People who subscribe to this view do not have an understanding that several antiretroviral drugs are costly and they also have side effects.  However, it is true that the medication makes the lives of HIV-positive people better and also ensures that they live longer. It is also critical for groups of people holding this belief to have the knowledge that the best way of dealing with the dangers associated with HIV/AIDS is through prevention. It is better than trying to handle a life-long issue.HIV among African Americans

Moreover, there has been a belief among several communities around the globe that it is irrelevant for a couple infected with the virus to protect themselves (Cold, Health & Disease, 2019).  The lack of an understanding that there exist various strains of HIV makes these people opine to such perspectives. The medication works towards reducing the effects of a particular strain of HIV. It is challenging for a person to get treatment for more than one strain of HIV.

 

How HIV is spread-HIV among African Americans

HIV infection is spread in various ways that range from having unprotected sex with an infected person to sharing of sharp objects like needles with a person carrying the HIV virus. Each factor plays its role in spreading HIV and the combination result of all the factors is detrimental to say the least. HIV is spread in different ways as discussed in this section.

To begin with, HIV among African Americans is contracted by having unprotected sex with a partner who is carrying the HIV virus. Unprotected sex among people whether of color or not can lead to one being infected with HIV virus and other forms of STDs. Across all the groups of people, heterosexual, gay, transgender, Whites and Latinos, having unprotected sex is the leading cause of HIV infection. When people having sex without any form of protection, the partner carrying the virus can easily transmit the virus to his or her partner. It is also ease for a person with another STD like gonorrhea to pass or get HIV infection. African Americans also make the largest number of people living with other STDs. This makes the virus to spread like a bush fire among African Americas when they have sex with multiple partners and fail to use sex. At time, a person carrying the HIV virus might not have knowledge about their status and if he or she has multiple partners, they all contract the virus. This cycle of infection continues and married men and women who have unfaithful partners and trust them find themselves in the bandwagon of those infected (Mayoclinic.org, 2019).HIV among African Americans

Another way that HIV is spread is through sharing of contaminated needles among those infected with those who are not. Under hospital settings, once a needle is used it is disposed and cannot be used again to inject drug to another person. However, needles are used outside hospitals by people who use drugs that need injection to the blood stream. When drug addicts are together, they share needles not knowing that one of them might be having HIV. They care less about infections as their appetite for the drug such as cocaine or heroin overrides the need to take care. Through use of needles, multiple people can be infected at a go since the needle is passed from one person to another. Black Americans contribute a high percentage of people using drugs and as such, sharing of needles and other intravenous objects lead to HIV infection. This is the second leading way through which HIV is spread in the Black American community (Mayoclinic.org, 2019).HIV among African Americans

Poverty is another factor that contributes to HIV infection among Black Americans. Poverty can lead to people engaging in social habits that they would not if they had money. On average, African –Americans are more likely to be uninsured than Whites. When poverty makes one to start hawking sex, they are less careful and the probability of them engaging in unprotected sex is very high. This increases their chances of getting HIV virus as some malicious people might be on the run of spreading the virus to as many people as possible. Therefore, the person working as a sex worker finds himself or herself in a compromising situation and when offered high amount of money could oblige to unsafe sex. Moreover, poverty may limit one’s options to HIV testing and treatment (E. Kaplan, 2018).

Preventions-HIV among African Americans

HIV prevention among African  Americans can be done in several ways. Across the world, same measures are deployed to control and prevent the spread of HIV. These measures are effective and can be used in different societies to bring out the same results. These measures are discussed in the following section.

To begin with, behavioral intervention is vital in the fight against HIV. Majority of HIV infections across the world can be squarely placed on behavior of people. Behavior intervention has been a critical part of reducing HIV prevalence in different societies and has been effective. Behavioral intervention can include promoting the use of condoms and encouraging social norms that promote safe sex. This can be effective in preventing and reducing the spread of HIV. Organizations can pitch camps in Black Americans neighborhoods to teach and encourage them to use condoms. Abstinence can also be talked about since it is the only sure way of preventing HIV infection. Being faithful for those with partners can also be helpful in preventing HIV infection (NCSD, 2014).

Today, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PREP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) drugs are useful in preventing HIV infection. To be safe one can use PREP before exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) after HIV exposure. Those in medical field for years have been using PEP to prevent accidental infections. Both PREP and PEP are effective in preventing one from getting HIV infections when taken at the right time. People across the globe are being encouraged to use them immediately before exposure to HIV for PREP and immediately after exposure for PEP.

Another way to prevent spread of new HIV infections among African Americans is to encourage them to go for HIV screening. This is important in the fight against HIV as people who know their status can take the appropriate measures to protect themselves and others who are at the risk of contracting the virus. HIV screening is imperative if the fight against HIV is to be won. The need for creating awareness in African American community is shown by the study conducted among 197 sexually active Black males that revealed that 33% of them had not gone for HIV screening in the past two years (Gayle, 2019).

Treatment adherence is another way of preventing and reducing HIV infection among African-Americans. Treatment through use of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) can reduce one’s chances of infecting others (NCSD, 2014). When an infected person adheres to ART, the virus is suppressed and reduces their mortality and morbidity. Educating and counseling those with HIV on the importance of strictly following the ART prescription will go a long way in improving treatment adherence.

Findings HIV among African Americans

Research conducted over the years in African-American communities has demonstrated several facts about HIV/AIDS among the Blacks in the United States.  In the year 1981, DCC published a report in which it highlighted what is today known as HIV/AIDS. The report describes twenty-six cases of people who were infected by the virus (CDC. Fact Sheet, 2018). It further pointed out that one of the twenty-six infected people was a black American. In the following year, research by the same group of people established that the number for the Black Americans suffering from the virus had risen to more than eighty-six people.  This constituted 20% of the individuals who were reported to be suffering from HIV/AIDS in the year 1982 (CDC.Fact Sheet, 2018).To identify the causes of AIDS, several research studies were conducted in the following years. It was not until 1984 that Dr. Robert Gallo had a breakthrough on what causes the disease. In his report, the doctor mentioned that AIDS is caused by a virus known as the human immunodeficiency virus.  In the same year, CDC reported that half of all the pediatric cases of AIDS were associated with the Black Americans. Further studies revealed that among women, African American females accounted for 51% of the women who were reported to be suffering from HIV/AIDS. The rate was thrice the number of women whites who were suffering from the disease.

To curb the rise of HIV/AIDs among the African-Americans, several organizations took an initiative to create awareness among the people from this community. For instance, there was a launch of the “Black Faith Initiative “by CDC.  The aim of the CDC was to ensure that information on HIV/AIDS prevention reached Black Americans through their faith-based organizations. A few years later, a new study conducted pointed out the rate of new infections among the African-Americans was higher than that of the whites. Since then, this rate has been the same. In the year 1993, HIV/AIDS was announced as the leading killer disease for the blacks who were men in the United States of America (CDC.Fact Sheet, 2018). This was for the people aged between the ages of twenty-five and forty-four.  Similarly, it was reported as the second leading cause of death for women in the same category of age among the African-Americans.HIV among African Americans

In 2017, a survey conducted by a group of researchers from the US demonstrated that the southern region of the nation had the majority of the African-Americans suffering from HIV/AIDS (CDC.Fact Sheet, 2018).  This accounted for 63% of all the cases of Black Americans suffering from the disease (“State Health Facts”, 2019). In 2016, the rate of Blacks in the same region suffering from HIV/AIDS accounted for 58% of all the cases of the Black Americans suffering from the disease. In the US, the states that are known as the homes to the Black Americans have the highest cases of HIV/AIDS prevalence, for instance, statistics in 2016 demonstrated that New York and Florida had some of the highest cases of the people suffering from the disease (CDC. Fact Sheet, 2018). Overall, the highest number of African-Americans living with HIV/AIDS was reported in the District of Colombia.

For the purposes of prevention and healthcare, several Americans reported having been involved in HIV testing.  Of these people, 76 % of them, aged eighteen years and above, were reported to be black Americans (“State Health Facts”, 2019).  For those who were found to be suffering from the illness, 20% of the African-Americans revealed that they were tested during the late stages of the HIV/AIDS (“State Health Facts”, 2019).

Discussion-HIV among African Americans

The data on HIV/AIDS collected by the researchers demonstrate that Blacks are more prone to be infected by the disease than any other group in the United States. Several factors are attributed to this. For instance, the Blacks live in high poverty levels, they also have limited access to healthcare and above all, they have insufficient awareness opportunities on HIV/AIDS. However, the numbers for Blacks suffering from HIV/AIDS in the US has been going down. This is particularly among black women.  It is important for the nation to focus more on HIV/AIDS prevention among the blacks through ensuring that they are enlightened on the preventive measures.

One of the things that we learn from the findings on HIV/AIDS is that there is a large percentage of the blacks in the US who go for an HIV test during the late stages of the infection.  This can have a detrimental effect on the victim because the disease may have done damage that is beyond repair. To that end, I strongly recommend that the US government comes up with awareness activities aimed at encouraging the black people of America to go for an HIV test on a regular basis. If an infection is earlier detected, then it is easier for a person to get a treatment that would not only improve his/her life but also prolong the years in which they will stay alive.

The US government should also work towards ensuring that blacks have sufficient access to healthcare.  By doing so, it is going to be easier for the government to reduce the high number of new HIV/AIDS infections for the Blacks within the nation.  Besides, the US Central Administration should come up with learning opportunities for all the Americans where they can enlighten the public on the dangers of stigmatizing people living with HIV/AIDS. Stigmatization is evil and barbaric because it lowers the self-esteem of the HIV/AIDS victims and thus negatively influencing the manner in which they make their decisions, for instance, they may fail to go to the hospitals to receive their medication.  It will thus, be important for the government to inform the public and discourage the citizens from participating in discriminatory behavior.

Besides, one of the possible reasons why the new increase on the number of the people infected with HIV/AIDS is always higher for the Blacks than other groups of people is because there is low use of contraceptives. To that end, the government should strengthen sexual and reproductive health education in the states where the majority of the blacks live.

Conclusion-HIV among African Americans

In conclusion, from the above discussions, it is crystal clear that HIV/AIDS is a disease that is negatively affecting the African-Americans. The infection is associated with various myths and misconceptions. However, several studies conducted have revealed that the disease is caused by body fluids such as vaginal fluids and blood. In America, statistics have indicated that Blacks are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection because of the prevalence of high poverty levels and having limited access to health care. It is thus important for the government to come up with measures aimed at reducing the high numbers of the Blacks suffering from AIDS. For instance, the US government can strengthen the sexual reproductive health in the areas where the majority of Blacks are living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

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CDC.Fact Sheet. (2018). HIV and African Americans.

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National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, 23(4).

NCSD, N. (2014). A Blueprint for Improving HIV/STD Prevention and Care Outcomes for Black & Latino Gay Men. National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Director, 1(2).

State Health Facts. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/statedata/