Veronica's View: We are the 44 percent and it's personal
African Americans account for 44 percent of all the new HIV infections in the United States.
By Veronica Hendrix
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's infamous 47 percent comment that dissed nearly half of all Americans was the nail in his slowly closing coffin.
It will certainly go down in history as the comment that cost him and his party their political lives.
Percentages are personal. When you drill down below the numbers and the hyperbole and the spin, they represent people and their individual life experiences.
Take for example 44 percent.
This is a personal percentage if you are an African American.
We account for 44 percent of all the new HIV infections in the United States. And we are only 14 percent of the population.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states, "African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States compared with other races and ethnicities."
Since the first AIDS case was reported in 1981 a lot has transpired in terms of an increase in awareness, dispelling of myth about HIV/AIDS, advances in testing, treatment and policies. All of that's good. But 44 percent is a damning statistic. That means nearly half of all new HIV cases are us. That is stunning. Where is the outrage?
World AIDS Day is December 1. It deserves a hollowed moment. It should not come and go without reverence. As the 44 percent percent we should pause in its observance. It has been a disease that has disproportionately impacted the African American community. Many lives have been loss in the war against HIV/AIDS. Today most of us can say we have either known someone who lost their life to HIV/AIDS or we know someone is in the fight for life after being diagnosed.
I don't want to recite a litany of statistics about HIV/AIDS and the inflection rates. You can download that information from the CDC .You've heard them and have heard repeatedly is estimated that nearly one million people in the United States are living with a positive HIV status and 18 percent of them don't even know they are affected. In the African American community approximately 1 out of 5 are living with HIV and unaware of their status. Another personal percentage that translates into real lives.
In the midst of the numbers and percentages, what's important to know is your status, how to protect yourself and how to protect others. And most importantly, what's essential in this moment is that we don't let World AIDS Day come and go without remembrance, reflection and action.
While you are here take a quick moment and click over to Blackaids.org . Here you will learn what you can do to observe World AIDS Day and how to you can get involved on a personal level because the 44 percent is personal.
It's befitting that this year's World AIDS Day theme is "Getting to Zero: Zero New HIV Infections." We are the 44 percent. But it takes 100 percent of us to get to that number.
Veronica Hendrix is a syndicated columnist and feature writer whose work has covered the span of the human continuum – from clinical trials of male contraceptives, to the gang violence. She is the owner of Bromont Avenue Foods. She is the author of "Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning Heart Healthy Recipes."
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