HIV CRISIS: AIDS is the leading cause of death for African-American women ages 25-34 today
Southern AIDS Living Quilt Raises Awareness on the Web
"Last year in North Carolina, 80 percent of HIV cases diagnosed in women were among blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans. While men, particularly African-American men, still account for the largest number of HIV/AIDS cases, an often hidden epidemic is taking place among women.....In New Orleans, women now make up about one-third of the city's 3,500 HIV-positive residents....Last year, women made up 67 percent of new HIV cases in New Orleans"
These are links to reports of studies presented at ICAAC Oct 20-25 208 in Wash DC which highlight the problema of African-American women in the USA. It appears while we are spending many millions of dollars in the developing world we are neglecting a crisis here in the USA. The US federal government and US drug companies and US foundations are sending large sums of money overseas but what about the neglected serious problems at home in the USA. There are several crisis related to HIV being neglected domestically and this one in African-American women is clearly among them. But they also include a battered HIV care system, beaten down by poor reimbursement for doctors, and the lack of specific support systems for the poor who receive care at public hospital systems, particularly in crowded urban cities:
ICAAC: Risk of Death 70% Higher When Delaying ART With CD4s at 351 to 500
ICAAC: Black Women in US Less Likely to Get Antiretrovirals, Regardless of Insurance
ICAAC: Half of Black US Women Switch HIV Clinicians Because of Communication Problems
ICAAC: Frequent Sexual Activity by Brooklyn Teens Infected With HIV at Birth
Web site designed for women with HIV/AIDS
Too often, it is when women show up for prenatal exams that they discover they are HIV positive, or sick with full-blown AIDS. Even more common, the women are black or Hispanic, and in long-term relationships they believed were monogamous.
Their risk factor for contracting the virus that causes AIDS? Being an adult and being a woman of color.
Last year in North Carolina, 80 percent of HIV cases diagnosed in women were among blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans. While men, particularly African-American men, still account for the largest number of HIV/AIDS cases, an often hidden epidemic is taking place among women.
"We are losing the war against AIDS," said Dr. Steve Cline, deputy state health director. "We're losing it not just as a nation, but also losing it as a region. The South is disproportionately hit."
Cline addressed advocates, care providers and HIV patients Tuesday to help launch a Web page designed to reach Southern women infected with HIV/AIDS. It features video testimony of 30 women, including several from the Triangle, who have been diagnosed with HIV or are working to combat the disease.
The Web effort -- called the Southern AIDS Living Quilt (www.livingquilt.org) -- is the latest line of attack mounted by the Southern AIDS Coalition, which was started six years ago by public health leaders in 17 states.
The group wrote a manifesto in 2002 to federal officials who fund AIDS programs, demanding a new approach for a new epidemic. Initially concentrated among urban gays and intravenous drug users, the virus began making an onslaught in rural areas in the 1990s.
By 2007, the South had more people living with HIV than any other region in the nation.
But even after more federal tax dollars began flowing to AIDS programs in the Southern states, the epidemic has raged on -- especially among black and Hispanic women. The rate of HIV infection among black women is 15 times higher than for white women, and it is four times higher for Hispanic women than whites.
"That is absolutely unacceptable," said Evelyn Foust, director of the state's communicable disease branch.
Among the challenges in North Carolina is the state's rural history, along with pockets of poverty that make it hard to get health care. In addition, the state's culture, steeped in traditional Christian doctrine, often makes it difficult to discuss sex openly.
"I'm a Southerner," Cline said, noting that he was born and raised in North Carolina, "and how we live our lives and what we talk about doesn't always work for us."
The issue is especially difficult for women, who may not feel they can demand that longtime boyfriends or husbands wear condoms, which protect against transmission of the HIV virus. Many have no idea their sex partners are not monogamous.
For Hispanic women, the issue is even more freighted, especially if they are Catholic and heed prohibitions against contraception. Women here illegally also fear that an HIV diagnosis will trigger deportation.
"Latino women are finding out they are HIV positive through prenatal care," said Yvonne Torres, HIV/STD program manger for Wake Human Services. "Some of the men who come here arrive earlier than their wives and have unprotected sex with women they don't know. That's how women get infected."
Foust said the state has more work to do to erase the stigma of HIV/AIDS and make testing routine. While a new state policy has cleared the way for testing women during routine pelvic exams, the testing is not uniformly done throughout the state. She said the new Web site is an effort to build knowledge, erase the stigma and encourage women to seek help.
Linda Holland-Blackwell of Raleigh is one of those who offered testimonials on the Living Quilt. Diagnosed with full-blown AIDS in 2000, Blackwell said she thought she had been issued a death sentence. With support from her family, her church and community AIDS organizations, she said she has begun to reach out to others who have the disease.
"Don't be afraid to be tested," she said. "And know you aren't alone."
HIV has no stigma, woman decides
N.O. resident urging acceptance, education
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
By Katy Reckdahl http://www.nola.com/news
For years, almost no local women were openly HIV-positive.
Gina Brown, 42, a caseworker at the NO-AIDS Task Force, hid her infection from all but her family and close friends for 11 years before Hurricane Katrina. Then a move to Dallas freed her thinking; she didn't know anyone there, and so felt little need to hide her secret from strangers.
Last week, a new Web site focusing on "the new female face of HIV/AIDS in America" posted a video interview with Brown. The site, called the Southern AIDS Living Quilt, www.livingquilt.org, was launched last week by the Southern AIDS Coalition and Test for Life.
In New Orleans, women now make up about one-third of the city's 3,500 HIV-positive residents. That's a drastic increase from the early 1990s, when the city's proportion of HIV-positive women was still in single digits.
Last year, women made up 67 percent of new HIV cases in New Orleans.
But the growing community of HIV-positive women has stayed mostly silent, a sharp contrast with the city's gay community, where being openly HIV-positive has become more accepted.
Women fear what Brown calls "the stigma." They worry they'll be shunned, their children will be teased, or friends will think less of them because they were careless or because a partner was unfaithful, she said.
Brown convinced two other local women to be interviewed for the Southern AIDS Living Quilt, which lists interviewees by first name and year of diagnosis. But she wouldn't name the women, because they're not open in all aspects of their lives, she said.
When Brown returned home from Dallas last year, she feared she would be a neighborhood pariah for being open about her HIV status. Instead, people told her she was brave. Classmates who had never hugged her in her life hugged her, she said. Many were shocked, saying, "I never would have known."
"People still think you can look at a person and tell," Brown said. The Southern AIDS Living Quilt proves that theory to be misguided, with its images of healthy and attractive HIV-positive women.
If only the site had existed 15 years ago, Brown said. When she was diagnosed in 1994, HIV/AIDS was still considered "a gay man's disease," she said.
"I wish," she said, "that other women had stood up then, before I became infected, and told me that this disease was a real possibility in my life."
Southern AIDS Living Quilt Project Coming to Miami
Web-based project educates and empowers through personal stories of
Florida women and others across the South
MIAMI, Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than eighty percent of women living with AIDS in Florida are minorities, with AIDS being the leading cause of death for African American women ages 25-34. Tomorrow, October 30, the Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC) and Test for Life will host a demonstration and discussion of the Southern AIDS Living Quilt (http://www.livingquilt.org), a website featuring real-life video stories from southern women on the frontlines of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Living Quilt project brings to life the impact of HIV/AIDS in the South, highlighting the disproportionate impact on women, particularly women of color, and providing critical information about routine testing and the importance of early diagnosis. Nationally, Florida ranks fourth highest in AIDS case rates and second in the number of AIDS cases reported.