R&R Aware: AIDS And Young Black Women-Aimlessness Is The Reason?

Every year on Dec. 1st, the world takes time out to rally against the threat that AIDS poses year round to every community and family through events that support the mission of World AIDS Day. As in years past, part of the activism starts with an examination of statistics and findings that agencies such as the CDC publish about the prevalence of the disease among the American population as a whole and in subsets of American society. We take in our annual dosage of shock about the facts like these:

According to the latest findings from the CDC almost half (46%) of Americans that are infected with the virus are black.

Of the new cases of HIV infections, 1 out of 4 is a woman and of those women, 2 out of 3 are black according to the National Women's Health Information Center.

This year, however, among the usual rundown of grim statistics was this from the CDC's recent "white paper", a report on how the government agency plans to address the spread of diseases such as AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections with consideration given to racial and economic disparity:

For low-income, young African American women who are under-employed or unemployed findings suggest that providing training on income-generating activities, coupled with components related to increasing self-esteem, self-efficacy, and business skills and training may result in a decrease in risk behaviors for those infections.

-CDC (pdf)

So this could be taken a variety of ways. One is that the reasons why black women are increasingly becoming infected with HIV are because we don't care about ourselves, have no marketable skills, and really need to get a job or make a job to distract us from our whore activities. But that kind of flies in the face of all of the "successful black woman" rhetoric that's been saturating much of the media lately. We are so successful and self assured that we can't find a man and are destined to live the lives of the proverbial, delusional cat lady yet at the same time, we are so down trodden and useless that we have nothing better to do with our time than engage in behaviors that infect us with a deadly disease just for kicks. As always, CDC findings should be taken with a grain of salt seeing that black writers have without fail followed up many CDC reports with pieces that seem to put things in a more realistic perspective, such as this one from The Root. It's amazing how liberating a little research can be.

I think these findings are especially interesting considering the economic tumult that the whole country is in right now. If lack of employment opportunities is the underlying cause of our rising number of new HIV cases, shouldn't the numbers be higher for EVERY subgroup? One thing I can give the CDC credit for is that at least they are trying to find a new way to tackle this issue. If focusing primarily on the physical aspect of prevention ( handing out condoms, and urging testing) isn't getting results then maybe addressing the problem by focusing on mental state (self esteem, goal setting, ect.) will be more effective. The mind is many times much stronger than the body.

What will you do to help stop the increase of HIV infections in our community? Should we put more efforts toward mentoring young black women and men? Is the answer to start early with instilling a value for education and the acquisition of job skills in our youth? Let me know what you think in the comments!