What can we do to stop the epidemic?

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 12/24/2013, 9:50 a.m.

The Dallas Examiner

African Americans know that HIV/AIDS is an epidemic in our community. In the Dec. 5 issue of The Dallas Examiner, the second section, A closer Look at Your Community, was dedicated to exploring HIV/AIDS in our community today. There were three excellent articles: one written by Ray Jordan, our local writer on HIV/AIDS issues, entitled Community mobilization, and two articles by National Newspaper Publishers Association national correspondents, Freddie Allen who wrote Conference tackles stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS and Jazelle Hunt who wrote Hopeful signs in the HIV/AIDS war.

We hope you read all three articles and that they inspired you to think about what you as individuals, community members and church members can do to help put an end to this epidemic.

On June 28, 2007, at the Democratic Presidential Primary Debate at Howard University, former Sen. Hillary Clinton talked about the impact of HIV/AIDS on African American women. During her speech, she stated, “If HIV/AIDS were the leading cause of death of White women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country.” (Source: FactCheck.org)

Is the African American community outraged?

If we are not, we should be.

Though the number of patients diagnosed with HIV in Dallas County has decreased by 27 percent since 2003, African Americans are still affected disproportionately. Last year, 49 percent of newly diagnosed HIV or AIDS cases were African Americans. However, only 24 percent of all new cases were White and only 26 percent were Hispanics, last year, according to the Dallas County Health and Human Services.

Furthermore, because people are living longer with the disease, each year the population of African Americans living with HIV/AIDS in Dallas County continues to grow more rapidly than all other ethnic groups.

Dallas County isn’t alone. These startling statistics are true for most large cities in the United States.

Yet, is that enough for the African American community to become outraged?

If so, does that outrage turn into outreach and education?

We all can do our part to stop this epidemic. Education is key. Elimination of the stigma that exists in our community about people with HIV/AIDS is necessary. And accessibility to health care for all persons infected with HIV/AIDS is mandatory.

There are churches and organizations in Dallas currently working in the above areas – we can join these efforts or form new ones.

We can take the resources we have and direct them to eliminating HIV/AIDS in our community.

• If we are educators, we can teach our community about HIV/AIDS.

• If we own businesses and have access to funds, we can direct money to areas that we feel will do the most good.

• If we are editors and writers, we can write about HIV/AIDS.

• If we publish newspapers and magazines, we can publish articles about HIV/AIDS.

• If we have decision-making power regarding the direction of funding, we can make sure funds are allocated for HIV/AIDS research and/or education.

• If we are pastors or religious leaders, we can create or support HIV/AIDS ministries in our church or affiliated churches.