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South needs wake up call in the fight to reduce HIV/AIDS

mcneir | 12/7/2011, 8:23 a.m.

Communities from the U.S. and across the globe marked the 30th anniversary of this eras most feared and least understood threat to our health and lives HIV/AIDS with World AIDS Day. The good news, according to medical experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based just outside of Atlanta, is that HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence. But many of us probably knew that already. Conversely, this chronic illness that has plagued the world for three decades continues to impact more and more people especially Black women and young Black males under the age of 25. One has to wonder why we have received more education in terms of preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, yet see numbers within certain demographics keeping going up. Dr. Andrew Skerritt, a professor at Florida A & M (FAMU) and author of a book entitled, Ashamed to Die: Shame, Denial and the AIDS Epidemic in the South, says even more troubling is the fact that more communities in the South are being impacted by the virus, than in any other parts of the U.S. As he points out, rural communities tend to have less access to health education or health care. They are therefore prime locations for STDs, including HIV/AIDS, to spread. What can we do? Skerritt says the Black church must become more active, more vocal and less self-righteous and judgmental. He is absolutely right. After all, is it our task to judge one another or to go to the aid of our brothers and sisters? Well leave you to answer the question. The time has long past where the Black community can afford to point fingers at others or remain silent while our mothers, brothers, fathers, sisters and children are dying or suffering needlessly sometimes even suffering alone. At some point we must address this epidemic head on. If not, between the number of Black boys going to prison and the number of young Black men contracting the HIV/AIDS virus, we may witness the swift demise of the Black race.