Exactly a decade ago this month I received an email flagged as urgent from Monrovia, Liberia. It was from Lee Johnson, then coordinator of Liberian Youths Against HIV/AIDS:
“Presently, the HIV/AIDS scourge is deeply eating into the fabric of our society and there is little being done to bring this to a halt. Therefore, some of us youths have come together to be able to bring awareness to our fellow youths on the danger of HIV/AIDS and other STDs. But, at present, we are not receiving much from the locals and that is why we have decided to get in contact with you,” Johnson wrote. Johnson wanted to know if the U.S. knew how the HIV/AIDS epidemic was ravaging his city and countryside; and if the U.S. knew how possibly could his distant cousins of the Diaspora — African Americans — and his queer allies — LGBTQ Americans — simply be silent and not act. By 2012 the U.S. is on record for contributing nearly $200 million devoted to stemming AIDS and malaria in Liberia. Continue Reading →
Columnist Lucky Rosenbloom wrongly attributes to the Guttmacher Institute the claim — itself false — that abortion providers “target” African American women [column of April 11]. In reality, disproportionately high abortion (and unplanned birth) rates among women of color are the direct result of their higher rates of unintended pregnancy, which in turn reflect economic and social inequalities that are widespread and pervasive. The result is stark disparities not only on various reproductive health outcomes, but also on a broad range of health indicators, including high rates of diabetes, heart disease, AIDS and cancer. Antiabortion activists ignore these systemic inequities and instead cynically accuse abortion providers of targeting minority women. In fact, fewer than one in 10 abortion clinics are located in predominantly African American neighborhoods. Continue Reading →
On March 1, federal budget sequestration went into effect. This will result in across-the-board cuts of 5.3 percent in most non-defense discretionary programs, including Ryan White, HIV prevention, HIV research, AIDS housing support, and prevention and treatment programs for people with substance abuse problems.
By withholding vital funding from essential HIV programs that have seen minimal increases in recent years, these looming cuts will undermine efforts to achieve the targets set forth in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The most severe effects will be felt in Black America, which has been more heavily affected by the HIV epidemic than any other racial or ethnic group. We are at a deciding moment in the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic. We are either going to decide to do what’s necessary to end the epidemic in this country, or we’re going to decide to continue to see American citizens get infected, get sick and die from AIDS. Continue Reading →