African American Women and HIV/AIDS: Critical Responses

By Dorie J. Gilbert; Ednita M. Wright | Go to book overview

Introduction

Dorie J. Gilbert and Ednita M. Wright

In speaking about the health issues facing African American women, R. B. Daniel stated several years ago that [AIDS is killing us our… community, our women, our men, our children, our families, our futures] (1996,13). We cannot say this any simpler. However, what we would like to add is that, sadly, the problem is not going away anytime soon. AIDS is now the leading cause of death for African American men from thirty-five to forty-four years of age and is the second leading cause of death among African American women between the ages of twentyfive and thirty-four, according to the 2001 National Vital Statistics Report (Anderson 2001). African American women now constitute 63 percent of all cases of AIDS among women in the United States. In states reporting data on HIV and AIDS diagnoses from January 1996 through June 1999, African Americans represented 50 percent of all AIDS diagnoses and an even greater number—57 percent—of all HIV diagnoses. Among young people (ages thirteen to twenty-four), 65 percent of the HIV diagnoses were among African Americans (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2001), and even though AIDS cases among Whites are declining, by the year 2005, African Americans are estimated to represent over 60 percent of all AIDS cases in the United States (Harvard AIDS Institute, Figure i.1). These facts alone provide the impetus for this book.

Both of us have devoted a substantial amount of time interviewing, counseling, and studying the life circumstances of women, and specifically African American women, living with HIV/AIDS. The number of books addressing women and HIV/AIDS has increased substantially over the past decade; many volumes include chapters that focus on African American women and other subgroups, related to both prevention and intervention efforts. However, there is no single volume that has focused on African American women alone, although they continue to shoulder a disproportionate burden of the HIV/AIDS impact on individuals, families, and communities.

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