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HIV/AIDS consuming more of our people.

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  • caribdigita
    Article: HIV/AIDS: the epidemic of the Black masses Date: Web Posted - Friday, October 10th, 2003 Source: www.BarbadosAdvocate.com - Barbados Advocate News
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 10, 2003
      Article: HIV/AIDS: the epidemic of the Black masses
      Date: Web Posted - Friday, October 10th, 2003
      Source: www.BarbadosAdvocate.com - Barbados Advocate News

      Link:
      http://www.barbadosadvocate.com/NewViewNewsleft.cfm?Record=15171

      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
      strengthened.

      In the United States of America, although Blacks constitute only 12
      per cent of the population, they nevertheless account for half of
      HIV/AIDS infections.

      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
      HIV/AIDS.

      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
      future disaster."

      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
      billion.[-End]
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