Video: HIV/AIDS among African Americans

The CBS Evening News on Thursday aired a segment titled “New Faces in the Fight Against HIV,” which discussed the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among African Americans.  You can find the clip on CBS’s website (video here).

The segment briefly overviews key statistics (e.g. African Americans make up 13% of the US population but 49% of new HIV cases), and touches on issues of stigma, drug access (especially among those who lack medical insurance), and public discussion of the disease.

I don’t want to be too critical of CBS’s coverage.  I think this is an important and informative report, especially for those who aren’t too familiar with the issues, but I do want to point out a couple of things. 

First, the reference to “New Faces” might be misleading: the fact that HIV/AIDS is disproportionately common among African Americans isn’t exactly breaking news.  If anything, the fact that it’s treated as real “news” highlights the fact that this issue hasn’t been getting enough attention — at least from mainstream media — for a long time now.

Second, the report definitely focuses on urban areas, with interviews of people in Chicago and Los Angeles.  Yet as we have recently seen, HIV/AIDS is a massive problem for many African Americans in the rural South.  I’m not necessarily blaming CBS for not covering this aspect of the issue, because the report that highlighted AIDS in the Deep South was only released last week, but in retrospect I think it’s worth noting that the CBS coverage perpetuates a common, but very incomplete, perception of where HIV/AIDS is a problem.

To sum up, I’d say watch the video clip and learn all you can, but realize that it covers a pretty limited territory compared to the actual scope of the issues.

If you’d like to read a couple recent articles that touch on HIV/AIDS among African Americans, check out this article from The Birmingham News about AIDS in the rural South, and this opinion piece from The Chicago Tribune about AIDS in the inner city.  For a recent report about the growing rate of HIV/AIDS among the US Latino population, you can look at this Washington Post article and/or my post about it.

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~ by h.e.g. on July 26, 2008.

One Response to “Video: HIV/AIDS among African Americans”

  1. Certainly much more focus has to be targeted at convincing faith-based leaders in the African American community to get involved in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In work I have done in rural Alabama, the lack of accurate information about HIV/AIDS is astounding. Stigma, fear, and denial keep people from learning basic facts and keeping up with the change in trends of the disease over the last serveral decades. I think the Black church could play an important role in reversing this trend.

    It is for these reasons that I wrote a book which is targeted to the church community to get them to get better educated as well as empowered to get involved in decreasing the epidemic in the community. “Is there a balm in Black America? Perspectives on HIV/AIDS in the African American Community” (www.lulu.com/706904) blends spirituality and facts about the disease through essays and stories and also uses discussion questions at the end of each chapter to get people to do more in-depth discussion about very senstive and controversial issues like homosexuality, homophobia, drug abuse, adultery, relationships, and sexuality.

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