HIV/AIDS: Still here
By Pastor Rasheed Z. Baaith
“… Knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies…” (Proverbs 8:10b -11a)
Some of us, and I don’t know why, seem to be under the impression that HIV/AIDS is not the problem it once was for our community. It may be that we hear fewer messages about prevention or we think new advances in medicine haven rendered the disease harmless. Whatever the cause, that kind of thinking is not only erroneous, it’s suicidal.
Have things gotten better for us in terms of HIV/AIDS infection By Walter Smith, Publisher
New York Beacon
In 2008, the presidential elections cost a record- setting $2.8 billion. To win that election, Barack Obama spent $740.6 million, eclipsing the combined $646.7 that George W. Bush and John Kerry spent four years earlier. Obama’s spending accounted for 44 percent of all the money spent in that campaign. A Wall Street analyst projects that 2012 spending for ads across all media will easily surpass the $2.8 billion mark.
President Obama inherited a country in severe economic recession, a real estate market that was belly up, and an auto industry that was on the verge of collapse— G.M.’s shares had tumbled to $3.36 per share. In his first post-election press conference Obama called the automakers “the backbone of American manufacturing” as thousands of auto industry employees belonged to unions that are a part of the democratic base.
The financial “bailouts” of 2009 ($17.4 billion for General Motors and Chrysler, $6 billion for GMAC, $1.5 billion for Chrysler Financial) while great for those companies and the many others that received stimulus aid, had no visual and significant impact on the Black community.
So many African Americans re-main disillusioned about the benefits of the Obama presidency, and the fin- rates? It depends on how one defines “better.” In 2011 the proportion of all the newly reported HIV cases in Bro-ward County that were Black decreased from 56 percent in 2002 to 44 percent in 2011.
In the State of Florida, all newly reported HIV cases decreased for Blacks from 56 percent of the total cases in 2002 to 55 percent in 2011. I guess those statistics could be labeled “improvements.” Yet we are still 60 percent of total AIDS/HIV deaths in both Florida and in Broward County. Even more telling is the fact that once Black folk develop AIDS, we only live about half as long as Whites.
And for the past 22 years, from 1988 – 2010, HIV/AIDS has been the leading cause of death for Black people between the ages of 25 – 44 in Florida; let me give one more horrible fact, HIV/AIDS is the fourth leading cause of death among Black women between the ages of 25 – 44; and 1 in 51 Black women in this state are living with HIV/AIDS.
The information given to us by these numbers should make us determined to eradicate this disease as rapidly as we can. We should inculcate our total community and especially our young people, with HIV/AIDS prevention messages. Those messages should be in our churches, our schools, where we socialize, and the clubs we frequent and be heard or read in our media.
Speaking of our churches, there are those who feel our churches have not done all they can in spreading prevention messages, humanely treating those who have become sick from this illness or even in recognizing the seriousness of the epidemic. Let alone using the pulpit as a weapon in this war. While that was certainly true at one time, that is not our present reality.
No doubt there is much more our churches could do, still it is equally true that Black churches are accepting their responsibility to teach and preach about HIV/AIDS more than ever be-fore. Whether Black clergy wants to or not, whether they are comfortable with doing so or not, it is happening.
But here is another reality. We live in a time when there is open rebellion in our churches against pastoral authority, too many of our people who at-tend church do so, for reasons other than being transformed by the touch of the Holy Spirit. In other words, if they are engaging in promiscuous sexual behavior, they want to continue to do so; if they are unfaithful to their marriage or practice homosexuality, they are determined to continue in that behavior.
They believe that the pastor’s job is to preach, not be in their “business”, especially when it comes to private behavior.
They believe that “come as you are” means “stay as you are.” Some of us are determined to make choices that will one way or another kill us or send us to Hell.
This disease is contacted behaviorally. It is not passed through the air or vectors of any type nor is it in us at birth. We have to do specific things in a specific way to be touched by it.
We may not think about HIV/AIDS prevention as often as we should or behave sexually or socially as we ought to but that doesn’t matter to the disease. It’s still here and will be for some time to come.
Data sources: Florida Department of Health, Bureau of HIV/AIDS.