Saturday, February 04, 2006

AIDS Ain't Over

No one seems to talk much about AIDS anymore, at least outside the gay community. But it's still there, wrecking whole communities, like the black and Latino community in New York City.

In the decade since effective drug treatments for AIDS have slashed death rates across the country, black New Yorkers continue to fall ill and die at startling rates, according to new data from the city health department.

Today, one in five black men in New York City between 40 and 49 has H.I.V. or AIDS. Black women, meanwhile, account for 34 percent of new AIDS cases, up from 12 percent 20 years ago.

[SNIP]

There are few financial barriers to getting care for H.I.V. and AIDS, however. Through an elaborate network of programs financed by the city, the state and the federal government, help is available and drug treatments for even the poorest patients are fully subsidized.

But the latest statistics from the Health Department show that many people who most need care fail to get it.

When AIDS largely affected gay white men, those men tended to take charge of their own care, health officials said. That has not happened among black and Latino men and women, in large part, health officials say, because many patients would rather die than risk having family or friends find out they are sick.


It's not that gay blacks and Latinos are more likely to contract the virus than white gays, it's that they are less likely to seek treatment, primarily over the stigma. How tragic is that?

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