While the Black Lives Matter movement has concentrated on the epidemic of police violence, African Americans experience the most severe burden of HIV as compared with other races and ethnicities.
HIV is the infection that causes AIDS, a
African Americans represent approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population, but members of the ethnic group accounted for an estimated 44 percent of new HIV infections in 2010.
African Americans also accounted for 41 percent of people living with HIV infection in 2011.
Since the epidemic began, an estimated 270,726 African Americans with AIDS have died, including an estimated 6,540 in 2012.
More than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 8 (12.8%) are unaware of their infection.
Since its discovery in 1981, HIV/AIDS has killed more than 25 million people. If left untreated, HIV gradually weakens the body’s immune system, usually over a period of up to 10 years after infection.
HIV is most commonly spread by sexual activities and the exchange of body fluids.
It can also be transmitted through childbirth, breastfeeding, and sharing needles.
Over the past decade, the number of people living with HIV has increased, while the annual number of new HIV infections has remained relatively stable. Still, the pace of new infections continues at far too high a level—particularly among certain groups.
Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are most seriously affected by HIV, but — like African Americans — Hispanics are also disproportionately affected by HIV.
Latinos represented 16 percent of the population but accounted for 21 percent of new HIV infections in 2010. Hispanics accounted for 20 percent of people living with HIV infection in 2011.
Disparities persist in the estimated rate of new HIV infections among Latinos. In 2010, the rate of new HIV infections for Latino males was 2.9 times that for white males, and the rate of new infections for Latinas was 4.2 times that for white females.
Since the epidemic began, more than 100,888 Hispanics with an AIDS diagnosis have died, including 2,155 in 2012.
These disparities are only a part of a mide broader problem, which includes wide variations in income and wealth, health care access, education levels, life expectancy, as well as incarceration and police violence.
Despite great advances since the civil rights protests led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others during the 1950s and ’60s, America remains sharply divided along ethnic lines even as some theorize that we are living in a “post racial” society.
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