HIV/AIDS consuming more of our people.
- Article: HIV/AIDS: the epidemic of the Black masses
Date: Web Posted - Friday, October 10th, 2003
Source: www.BarbadosAdvocate.com - Barbados Advocate News
A FATE just as insidious as slavery is overtaking people of African
descent. This debacle, some label it potential genocide, is now the
leading cause of death among Blacks everywhere and is spreading at an
incredible rate. HIV/AIDS activists of colour contend that they
cannot be again accused of being alarmist or even playing the race
card because current statistics illustrate the horrific tale.
They argue that if Blacks become acutely aware of how HIV/AIDS is
decimating our race, particularly in third world countries, then
effective and immediate measures will be mounted, especially at the
individual and community level, to stem the pandemic.
As we all know, Africa currently has the highest prevalence of
HIV/AIDS in the world, with Sub-Saharan Africa being the hardest hit
region on that continent.
About 29.4 million, or 70 per cent of all people living with the
disease struggle for survival in that hot spot, which is plagued by
persistent famine and armed conflict.
Information released this week revealed that an estimated 600 to 1
000 people in South Africa are dying daily from AIDS and its related
complications. That country's Minister of Defense admitted that about
one-fifth of the military is infected with the virus that causes
AIDS, but dismissed apprehensions about the effects of the disease on
the armed forces.
Last year, Africa recorded more AIDS infections and deaths than any
other nation around the globe. In our own neck of the woods, the
Caribbean remains the second worst affected area in the world, with
HIV/AIDS severely impacting the citizens of our nation states during
their most productive years.
According to recent figures, the poverty stricken and politically
unstable country of Haiti still heads this list, with about six per
cent of its adults living with the virus. The mode of transmission is
predominantly heterosexual, and the infections and deaths are
concentrated among young adults.
Up to date research indicates that the rapid heterosexual spread of
HIV/AIDS in the Carib-bean is to a large extent fuelled by a lethal
mixture of early sexual activity and a frequent turn over of partners
among youths. What is termed a "mixing of ages" is said to be
spiralling the HIV/AIDS rate in young Caribbean women of African
descent. According to one report, while most young-men have sex with
women their own age or younger, over 28 per cent of young girls said
they have sex with older men.
Data from a surveillance programme for pregnant women in Jamaica
shows almost twice the incidence of HIV in girls in their late teens
than in older women.
There is a glimmer of hope in the Barbadian context. Prime Minister,
Owen Arthur, while addressing the United Nations 58th General
Assembly last month, disclosed that after the first year of our
National Programme to combat HIV/AIDS, deaths by AIDS have fallen by
43 per cent and there has been a six-fold reduction in mother to
child transmission, maintaining levels of less than six per cent
transmission over five years.
He asserted that having made marked strides in regard to treatment,
now initiatives geared at prevention and behaviou-ral change will be
In the United States of America, although Blacks constitute only 12
per cent of the population, they nevertheless account for half of
The disease is now the leading cause of death among African American
women between the ages of 23 to 44, and African American men 35 to
44. It is also among the top three causes of death for African-
American men between 25 to 54 years old and women ages 35 to 44.
Some Black HIV/AIDS activists, pointing to the exorbitant sums of
money being spent to fight terrorism, insist that racism has to be
the reason that rich countries have not contributed increased funding
to the Global Fund to battle HIV/AIDS, Tuber-culosis and Malaria,
which are claiming far more casualties.
However, just a few weeks ago, the United Nations General Assembly
deemed the Global Fund one of the most effective tools in fighting
The fund was founded in January 2002 to respond to "formidable
challenge by marshalling new financial resources and supporting
programmes that will reach those who are in most need of help."
Grants have been approved to 93 countries, including those described
as having "the greatest present disease burden and those at risk of
Two years initial financing totaling US$1.5 billion has been
committed to over 150 programmes. Sixty per cent of disbursement is
for Africa. Haiti is also a beneficiary. For 2004, US$681 million has
so far been pledged to cover needs calculated at approximately $3