Angeles-based Black AIDS Institute and other groups last
week held the first national conference focused on
AIDS and black women in America.
As of 2002, AIDS
was the leading cause of death for African-American
women ages 25 to 35. According to a Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention report released last month,
African-Americans are eight times more likely than
whites to be HIV-positive, even though the rate of newly
reported HIV cases among blacks has dropped.
African-Americans accounted for 68% of newly diagnosed
female HIV cases last year, according to the CDC.
"I see each week
at least one woman that is newly infected that says
she doesn't have a clue about how that happened," Celia
Maxwell, director of Howard University's Women's
Health Institute, said at a press conference.
person in this room, get tested," urged actress Gloria
Reuben, who played an HIV-positive woman on TV's ER.
"I want us to
stop being shocked; shocked into silence," said Rep.
Maxine Waters, a California Democrat.
who was born with HIV infection, said when she tells
her story to young people, she notes that the medicines that
keep her alive cost almost $2,500 a month. "No kid
wants to spend their money on meds," she said.
remarked that the press conference coincided with the 50th
anniversary of the day Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus
seat to a white man. "For black people in America
today, the bus is AIDS," said BAI executive director
Phill Wilson, but instead of giving up a bus seat, "we
are being told to give up our lives." (AP)