15 May 2006

Africans and African-Americans In Distress = A.I.D.S. I was stunned by the “Newsweek” May 15th 2006 issue that featured a number of articles about the scourge of the AIDS epidemic in Black America. First let me say that I am not one to entertain conspiracy theories. However many years ago I read an article entitled: “W.H.O. Murdered Africa” by William Campbell Douglass, M.D. that left me with the notion of the possibility that AIDS was a man-made disease. He contends that AIDS was purposely introduced into Africa, Haiti, Brazil and Japan by the World Health Organization via a small pox vaccination program in the 1970’s. Douglass was definitely off the mark on a number of the things he stated but hindsight is 20/20. I still believe in the primary theme of his thesis, that AIDS was man-made, especially after reading the book “AIDS and the Doctors of Death” by Alan Cantwell Jr. M.D. With this in mind, reading in Newsweek how AIDS is devastating the African-American community, as well as the AIDS pandemic that is taking place in Africa, leaves one wondering if this is all just a coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidences. However, the issue now isn’t on the origins of the disease, but it’s effects on those of us of African descent today.

According to the Newsweek article:

Twenty-five years after the virus was first documented in gay white men, HIV has increasingly become a disease of color, with blacks bearing the heaviest burden by far. African-Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for an astounding 51 percent of new HIV diagnoses. Black men are diagnosed at more than seven times the rate of white men, black females at 20 times the rate of white women.” Astonishing!

“Understanding why HIV has taken hold of black America and how to prevent its spread has proved to be no less daunting a challenge. The root of the problem is poverty and the neglect that comes with it—inadequate health care and a dearth of information about safe sex. IV drug use, sexually transmitted diseases and high-risk sex (marked by multiple partners and no protection) have fueled transmission; homophobia and religious leaders steeped in moralistic doctrine have suppressed honest conversations about how to stop it. All the while, much of black leadership has been slow in responding, only recently mobilizing to protect its community.”

There is only one word that can describe the AIDS crisis taking place in Africa: TRAGIC. This is a continent where continuous wars, rape, poverty, lack of preventative health care, migration of working men and beliefs, such as AIDS infected men having sex with virgins to cure the disease, are some of the factors contributing to the pandemic. It also doesn’t help that Jacob Zuma, the 64-year-old former deputy president of South Africa and former head of South Africa’s National AIDS Council, who although cleared of raping a woman he knew was HIV-positive, admitted to having unprotected sex with her and claiming that he had reduced his chances of infection by taking a shower after his condom-free sex. God help us!

There are a number of articles in this issue that are vital readings:

Read, think, comment and commit to change. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance can lead to death. Or at least to consequences of pandemic proportions.