(BlackDoctor.org) — More than a quarter of diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States are among women and girls aged 13 years and older, and more than 200,000 women and teen girls in this country are living with, and dying from, HIV right now.
Black women and girls continue to be infected in disproportionately outrageous numbers. In 2007, the rate of HIV/AIDS infection for black females was nearly 20 times as high as the rate for white females.
We need to address this crucial , and HIV/AIDS activist (and survivor) David Roberston offers his insights via a question a young women recently asked him:
Q: Dear David,
Over the past few months I’ve read about your efforts to help educate youth, minorities and the faith-based community about the side effects of HIV. I’d like to know how you contracted HIV. Also, what do you think are some of the reasons that so many Black women are contracting HIV? – April, Atlanta, GA
A: Dear April,
I contracted HIV because of negative learned behaviors. First, I believed that HIV could not happen to me because I was attractive, educated, came from a well-to-do family and only slept with members of my socioeconomic background. Second, I didn’t know how to effectively communicate to friends and relatives about how I was feeling inside about my brother’s AIDS diagnosis. These two fundamental negative behaviors of ignorance and lack of communication lead me down a path were I was seeking people who wanted me rather than going to people who needed me.
Negative Learned Behavior. Similarly, I believe that Black women have certain negative learned behaviors. For example, in my experience as a motivational speaker and HIV/AIDS awareness advocate, I’ve witnessed a dangerous pattern – many black women think that because a man is a man, he runs the show.
Afraid To Ask Health Questions. From my experience, I’ve learned that many women aren’t talking about the elements that make up the foundation of a strong and safe relationship, including health. In this day and age, when a Black woman finds a good man, she doesn’t want to ask medical health questions because she’s afraid she’s going to lose that good man.
A Good Man Is A Responsible Man. Communication with this “good” black man will either keep him around because he is sincere or will indeed run him away because he’s not all that good to begin with. So, it actually benefits a woman, for the sake of her health and a happy relationship, to become more responsible and ask the medical questions she needs to ask. Though it may be tough, communicating and being responsible is the definition of perfect love.
Women Need To Learn How To Love & Protect Themselves More. April, I do believe that black women, who are the pillars of humanity, the source of power, and the essence of greatness, must remember that before they can find love, they have to love themselves, protect themselves, and insist that any man they get involved with doesn’t get in the way of that. Yes, men have to be more responsible, too, but women must learn to stand up for themselves and their future.
Today, it is very evident that something is off. Statistics show that AIDS is the #1 killer of young black women. Still. 80% of these women are contracting HIV/AIDS via unprotected sex with an infected male. Still. We can point our fingers into the crowd, but accountability makes you point the finger at the woman/man in the mirror.