Did you know that Feb. 7 was National Black HIV/AIDs Awareness Day #NBHADD? Well, I didn’t until David Johns, the former executive director for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and now executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, went on The Breakfast Club to speak to the day.
Then he started dropping knowledge on how we, the African American community, are making strides to address those health issues that have knocked us back like diabetes, heart disease, and cancers but we still shy away from discussions around mental health and HIV and AIDS.
Our Community’s Taboo
Let’s be honest, we’re getting better at talking about the things we can joke about, like diabetes from soul food or how asthma may make you sound, but we don’t get down with those that we can make a mockery of. And this is one that frankly isn’t funny. I’ve lost family members from this disease and I’m sure you may have to or even know people leaving with this disease now.
Let’s put the jokes aside and get real and educated folks.
Here’s a stat from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that we, black women should know:
“Of the total number of women living with diagnosed HIV at the end of 2014, 60% (139,058) were African-American, 17% (39,343) were white, and 17% (40,252) were Hispanic/Latina.”
So even though Black Male-to-Male contact may yield the highest HIV diagnoses (10,233), Black women are the highest contracted group of women.
So why should we care? Welp, it’s like this, because we don’t want to talk about it – or hell gets tested for it – we blinded walk into situations with sexual partners who we know nothing about and at time risk the health of our temple for a moment of pleasure. And because we’re at times happy with just not knowing, we don’t take the measures to learn or protect our temples with knowledge. Then we’re left with faces of “what” or “how,” when we all know at least the “how” of it all.
Take Time to Figure Out the “What”
Since I’ve listened to Johns’ message from this morning, I’ve been all over the CDC website just learning info. In his discussion, he spoke to how to get tested, how to stay protected, and if you’re diagnosed, how to live a life with HIV, which can be a thriving and safe lifestyle, unlike how some of the media will portray it.
The CDC has a “Living with HIV” section that talks about dieting, exercising and medical and mental health practices that help fight and survive this disease. And those of us who are not affected have many things we can do too, but the biggest is to show ongoing support of those fighting their lives. Please remember those poignant words from Bro. Tupac shaker “Only God” can judge anyone, so please stop thinking that judging others will do anything but stamp you ticket away from heaven (see I said that nicely right?)
I’ve been tested several times to ensure that I stay on top of any and all things that could hurt my temple and I encourage you to do the same as soon as possible. Life can be unpredictable but always know that knowledge is power.
Find your local testing site here.