More disturbing news is coming out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as researchers fear that the numbers of new HIV infections are five times higher than previously thought.
According to the Huffington Post, a team called the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) announced the results its study HPTN 064 Women’s HIV Seroincidence Study (ISIS), which revealed that 32 of over the two thousand women who participated tested positive for HIV even though all of the infected women believed they were negative.
Alarming as this may seem, it is nothing compared to the rate in which black American women are being infected by this virus. Among those who initially tested negative for HIV, the rate of new infections was 0.24 percent within a year after joining the study. The ISIS study is comparable to estimated HIV incidence rates in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including the Congo (0.28%) and Kenya (0.53%).
Backpedaling after these revelatory numbers were released, the CDC launched a new campaign called “Take Charge. Take the Test,” which aims to help galvanize support and bring visibility to this epidemic.
In a statement released, the CDC seems scared to state the obvious but instead leaves an open-ended conjecture for this egregious rise in new HIV cases amongst black women:
“While African American women do not engage in more risky behaviors than other women, a complex range of social and environmental factors place them at greater risk for HIV,” the statement read.
Equally as puzzling, according to NewOne, Janet Cleveland, Deputy Director for Prevention Programs, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the CDC, feels its a right for black women to know their status and fight to protect their bodies but doesn’t say from whom black women are protecting themselves from?
If black women, by her own agency’s admission, don’t engage in risky behavior yet HIV infections are still on the rise, what or who is the boogeyman black women need to protect themselves from?
NewsOne reporter Jeff Mays offers his perspective, which restates the obvious without naming the real issue:
Some of the factors increasing the HIV/AIDS risk for Black women include lack of access to health care and the inability to sometimes negotiate safer sex because of financial dependence on a sexual partner. In addition, because Black men have higher rates of incarceration, which can lead to concurrent relationships and the higher prevalence of AIDS in the Black community, the chances of infection are higher with each sexual encounter.
Granted, what Mays says is right, as well Deputy Director Cleveland’s assessment, but neither theory names the inextricably sinister role race plays in America.
When blacks of all socio-economic statuses contract, develop, and die from HIV, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and violence crimes at rates higher than another other group — and we know there is no evolutionary, pop-science explanation for why blacks are stricken with disease at higher rates than their racial counterparts — it seems it would be worthwhile to investigate what role does a silent killer like race play in decreasing one’s ability to fight off disease.
What other “special circumstances,” as Deputy Cleveland puts it, is there in America for blacks. And when one adds to race the very real threat of violent victimization at the hands of men of all races in America, this now seems like very special circumstance for black women in particular, which should lead the CDC to abandon the gimmicky neighborhood testing drives and focus on preventing new cases of HIV by interrogating the powerful sociological forces at play in America.