Published on Tuesday, 24 January 2012 09:40
These types of stories are becoming far to regular. It seems that we can’t go a month without some mainstream news source in a major city running a story that proclaims that African American women have become the largest ethnic group to be diagnosed with HIV.
Today this horrible and tragic story line has popped up in Dallas, Texas. Steve Pickett for CBS News Dallas/Fort Worth has a story regarding “a troubling trend emerging in Dallas involving African American women and AIDS”.
“Currently, black women (we think she meant African Americans not just women) make up 22-percent of the population in Dallas — yet, according to county health officials, the group accounts for 71-percent of all female HIV cases.”
So what does this mean you ask? Currently 7 out of every 10 HIV cases diagnosed in Dallas County are African American women. A total of 1800 African American women in Dallas County have HIV. These numbers are staggering.
We have written about other parts of the nation who are facing similar diagnosis trends among African American women. We believe that the problem is that the community has associated HIV/AIDS as a disease that only affects those that are gay. This type of thinking has been placed in our community primarily by those in our community that say they are doing the work of God. Instead these religious leaders have turned HIV/AIDS into a Sunday sermon to attack those who are gay. They explain away HIV/AIDS as “God’s punishment” for those who “choose” to be gay. Now the chickens have started coming home to roost and those same religious leaders continue to turn their back on the growing evidence of this community health crisis they helped create.
In our blog entry yesterday we discussed the survey by the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation regarding African American women. This important study demonstrated that African American women are strong believers in God and participate in church at high numbers. With such numbers though comes a great responsibility for those who lead these churches. It is unacceptable for these so called leaders to continue their misguided crusade against gays that is responsible for creating the cultural climate that keeps individuals from openly dealing with HIV/AIDS. The “Church” has created such a climate of hate that those who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS hide their diagnosis from everyone in fear of being labeled gay. If this was any other profession, these leaders would be charged with malpractice and face potential criminal and civil lawsuits. But since it is “religion”, we allow these individuals to maintain their position of ignorance even if it means the creation of a new epidemic that will devastate the community.
We believe that time has come that we as a community start to hold these “leaders” responsible for their words and stop allowing them to create this veil of ignorance surrounding HIV/AIDS. In particular, we as women must stand up and reject this backwards attempt at leadership and denounce any person who would stand in the pulpit on Sunday and preach words to the congregation that are a threat to our very existence. There can be no justification for the “words of God” to be used as a vehicle for self genocide. Until we demand an end to this ignorance by our Churches about the threat of HIV/AIDS within our community we will continue to see these types of stories in more and more of our communities.
To read/view the story by Steve Pickett for CBS News in DFW, follow the link. We appreciate Steve’s willingness to undertake reporting on this important community health story.