Yes, I’m a day behind. I’m sorry. 😦

The HIV/AIDS epidemic has been an issue within the African-American community for some time now. Even though technology has improved as to where living with HIV/AIDS is doable, there are still many people walking around not even knowing they are infected. That means that people are walking around infecting other people without realizing it. Sad. Unfortunately, black women are falling prey to this at an alarming rate. It is estimated that 1 in 30 women will become infected with HIV in her lifetime. In the US, Black women account for 9 out of every 10 new HIV infections among women. The Center for Disease Control reports that Black women now account almost for 70 percent of females cases, and the number keeps growing. According to the CDC’s Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Dr. Kevin Fenton, “The harsh reality is that 1 in 16 Black men will be diagnosed with HIV at some point in their lifetime, as will 1 in 30 Black women. This is an important message for Black women to hear, since the primary mode of HIV infection for Black women is heterosexual contact.” So how can we go about combating this epidemic? In addition to using protection, one of the most important things you can do is GET TESTED. It is important to know your status.

In an effort to encourage black women to know their status, the Black Women’s Health Imperative has launched their Elevate Campaign. Elevate is a national campaign focused on raising awareness about Black Women and HIV. Black Women’s Health Imperative President and CEO Eleanor Hinton Hoyt says: β€œHIV infection among Black women is a complex mix of economic, social, cultural, biological, environmental, and behavioral factors. The HIV statistics about Black women are often buried within the statistics of the general HIV/AIDS population or are lumped together with statistics on Black men. This practice disguises the compelling evidence that Black women represent a disproportionate number of HIV cases, compared to our representation in the overall female population in the US.”

We all know that we black women stay busy. Whether its finding and keeping job, raising children, life in general, taking care of our health tends to fall to the back burner, if it makes it on top of the stove at all. But we can’t continue to ignore our health, for it’s out health that makes it possible to do all the things we find and/or make time to do.

In addition to our hectic lifestyles, some communities have limited access to preventive health care and medical services such as HIV testing and treatment. Or we fear that we will be frowned upon in our communities or our families with disown us.

We Queens need to overcome these obstacles, and the first step is knowing your status. June 27, 2011 is National HIV Testing Day. Instead of just making this a regular Monday, a few minutes out of your lunch break to find out your status. You can visit the Elevate Campaign Website to find a center near you. And it’s quick and easy. Just a simple swab of your mouth. No needles, no 30 page surveys. A simple 20 minutes can safe your life and those you love.

Visit the Elevate Campaign Website and the Black Women’s Health Imperative Website to get more information on HIV testing as well as other health issues as they relate to black women.

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