HIV/AIDs Crisis


HIV/AIDS is a very serious issue in the Black community as the number of African Americans infected is steadily rising, especially in low-income areas. So I went and got information from various agencies in these areas that deal with people with HIV. What I found out was shocking. I felt it needed to be shared with residents that live not only in these areas but in the Chicago Housing Authority overall because we hear so little about this and a lot of us don’t want to hear about it.

So here are some of the recent facts: Just in the Bronzeville area alone, there has been an increase in STDs (Sexually Transmitted Disease), Hepatitis and HIV, according to the Chicago Board of Health. Also, now health officials say that syphilis is on the rise again. It just seems that with all the new medication and information out there about AIDS that there would not be an increase in the number of people catching these diseases. There are so many places that people can go for help in most areas in the city.

And some of these places are free or charge very little. Plus, there are so many support groups – and this is not just for people with AIDS but anyone with any type of STD. A lot of this increase is due to drugs and how the illegal drug economy is impacting our neighborhoods. Men as well as women prostitute themselves for drugs and are not careful either when they are having sex or using drugs. Then we have people who know they are infected and won’t tell anyone that they are infected.

Then there is the bisexual man who will not admit that he is bisexual and is having unprotected sex with both sexes, knowing the risk. Let’s look at how bad this situation is and how we can make ourselves more aware. One national African American-oriented business is trying to find new ways to educate people. After finding out that 60 percent of new HIV infections in the United States are among Black teens ages 13 to 19, Black Entertainment Television executives decided to join forces with health agencies nationwide in BET’s “Black Star Power Road Tour” to help to get the word out.

According to a press release from BET, most health officials find that health clinics are not on the top of the list of places a young person would visit for health or HIV/AIDS information. So BET executives asked what better way is there to reach young people? They decided to try reaching these young people at the places they frequent, such as music stores, beauty salons, retail clothing stores and barber shops. “We must take the message of HIV/AIDS awareness to the street,” states a release from BET and the health officials involved in the tour.

I recently attended one of these events in Chicago at a West Side music store. More than 200 young people came to the event and were tested. BET gave out t-shirts and concert tickets to all of those who were tested. Throughout this tour, a lot of these non-traditional health information outlets are helping to distribute BET’S “RAP IT UP” brochures. BET is trying to run a comprehensive grass roots campaign to educate African Americans about HIV/AIDS. Their goal is to encourage at least 100,000 African Americans to get tested for HIV over the lifetime of the campaign.

There are so many other places you can contact in this city just wanting to share this information. The Chicago Board of Health is a good place to start. So please protect yourself, start being safe and get tested. More community organizations should come up with something like this.

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