December 1, 2012: World Aids Day.
December 27, 2012: I realize the article I wrote for World Aids Day never uploaded….so…HERE IT IS!
Being young, African American, and female is like being Primrose Everdeen with no Katniss to back you up. Frequently I find myself in the position where the odds are not in my favor, especially when it comes to health issues. Health disparities are a very real thing in America and they suck.
So when someone tells me that it’s World Aids Day the first thing I think is : YES! I LOVE AWARENESS Days!
Because I do, and HIV/Aids happens to be one of those diseases a lot of people care about so it’s awareness month is usually filled with tons of factual information and solid communication on how to decrease transmission.
In fact, HIV/Aids advocates are so good at their job that sometimes people feel like they’re getting mixed messages. It isn’t uncommon to encounter the following conversation.
Civilian: “So HIV/Aids is not a death sentence?”
Civilian: “But it is deadly?”
Civilian: “But how can it be deadly and not a death sentence?”
Advocate: “HIV/Aids is hard to handle and should be avoided by using safe sex practices, but those who have contracted it aren’t doomed to a short and horrible life.”
Civilian: “….so it’s not a death sentence?”
Advocate: *facepalm* *sigh* “No.”
My second thought when someone tells me that it’s World Aids Day: I wonder how this affects women of color.
Now, I truly do care about everyone who has been and/or could be affected by HIV/Aids (which is to say I care about everyone. BECAUSE ANYONE CAN BE AFFECTED BY HIV/AIDS).
But I’m selfish, so I always like to know how it directly affects ME and people like me.
And the picture isn’t pretty. It isn’t pretty at all.
Now there are a lot of statistics out there on everything. Like everything. Ever. Just Google something that sounds like it might have statistics and you will probably find some. So I don’t really like quoting them at people, but when it comes to HIV and Aids, statistics are pretty important so I’m going to link you to a CDC report at the bottom of this article.
However, instead of said article, instead of statistics, we’re going to have a very very very abbreviated conversation on why the aforementioned statistics are so horrible. It’s not because young black women are hoes, no matter what Trinidad says about certain females that attend certain prestigious colleges.
No, there are many reasons that contribute to African American women making up 57% of women who contracted HIV in 2009, but the reasons I am going to talk about are called the social determinants of health.
Social determinants of health are, quote, “The conditions and circumstances into which people are born, grow, live, work, socialize, and build relationships, and the systems that are in place to deal with health and wellness.”
One major social determinant is POVERTY.
BECAUSE BEING POOR SUCKS.
And unfortunately, a disproportionate amount of women of color are poor.
Having reduced access to hospitals/clinics because of where you live, having increased anxiety and stress due to not being able to pay your light bill or you water bill, or your bill bill, in addition to classicism, racism, sexism, etc. posing a multitude of problems just in general, makes it difficult to do ANYTHING, including accessing adequate health care. Which, of course, makes it SO MUCH EASIER for one to have a more unhealthy life.
And that’s in AMERICA. Just think of the REST of the world.
Inequality sucks in general. But when it contributes to something like HIV/Aids, it evolves from being intolerable to unconscionable. So I want us all to think beyond even just ending HIV/Aids to ending everything that contributes to the spread of it.
It’s an ambitious goal but together we can take the steps to get there.
My last thought when someone tells me that it’s World Aids Day is ripped off the Greater than Aids commericals and heavily edited:
Like everything else that sucks in the world, Aids started on person at a time.
And like everything else that sucks in the world, we have to end it, one person at a time.
Together we can improve the odds.
So wrap it up, spread the word, AND HAPPY WORLD AIDS DAY! (except not because it passed but still).
CDC report: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/women/index.htm