The face of HIV/AIDs has changed in our generation. While the perception of the disease has become more humane it is still a prevalent force of the African American community, especially in the rungs of folks who sit on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum. And even the image of those within the Black community who are impacted by HIV/AIDs has been slow to move past age-old hurtful stereotypes. A great piece to read is Buzzfeed’s recent expose on the Tiger Mandingo case and then Rich Juzwiak’s (Gawker) follow up critique of sorts. The Buzzfeed posts moves beyond the sensationalism of the story of a young (gay) Black athlete who knowingly while HIV+ had unprotected sex with various partners, it tips around the complexities of being Black while gay and gay while Black in the South and speaks directly with past partners of Tiger né Marcus Johnson, who benevolently place full blame on Johnson while acknowledging that they voluntarily had unprotected sex with him because he “looked clean” and was well ‘hung.’ Juzwiak takes it a step further and blatantly asks why don’t both partners share the onus of the possible implications of unprotected sex while further discussing the real facts of what it means to be HIV+ in todays society. Both pieces are worth the read and further thought.
While these pieces address more of the gay male and Black male perspective on the disease, it’s still important for us as Black women to absorb this information. According to the CDC 2014 statistic for HIV, Black women are 20 times more likely than their White female counterparts and 5 times as likely compared to their Latino counterparts in America to contract HIV via heterosexual contact. It’s ignorant to act as though none of us are taking on the risk of unprotected sex with partners we fully know are not faithful. And that has absolutely nothing to do with socio-economics. The absentmindedness of slipping up for the fleeting moment of a good feeling is something that crosses education, religious and economic levels. So there will always be a need for it to be addressed, for awareness to constantly be raised and to provide the ample education so that we, you and I all make better decisions with our bodies.
The video below is from the Red Pump Project’s Red Summer Soiree that I attended last month in DC. Founded by Luvvie Ajayi (AwesomelyLuvvie) and Karyn Watkins, the organization seeks to “raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.” The Red Summer Soiree was a brunch that featured a panel of Red Pump Ambassadors who spoke about the impact of HIV/AIDs on their families and lives. The young lady in the video shares a personal story about how HIV has impacted her family and how keeping a disease under the carpet is of no benefit to the family.
Image from Buzzfeed