Your Take: The Strong Link Between Race and HIV
Contrary to some media interpretations, the latest study from the CDC shows that being black is a powerful factor in determining whether you are affected by the AIDS virus, says the CEO of the Black AIDS Institute.
The Department of Agriculture researchers say that by age 28, the black population has reached the cumulative level of lifetime poverty that the white population arrives at by age 75. "In other words, blacks have experienced in nine years the same risk of poverty that whites experience in 56 years," the report stated. While these data are 10 years old, nothing has happened to improve the situation. In fact, between hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the economic meltdown, things quite likely have gotten worse.
But even money does not protect black people from HIV/AIDS. More than any other racial or ethnic group, our sexual relationships cross socioeconomic lines. Moreover, a large body of research shows that even black people with insurance and high income are more likely to experience poor health than their similarly situated white peers. Whether they seek care for heart disease, cancer or even a heart transplant, they, like their low-income black counterparts, cannot escape structural determinants of health reflected as racism in medicine. Making matters worse, racism itself contributes to poor health and early death.
So does poverty matter? Of course. But to pretend that race is not a huge factor affecting who is poor in America is naive at best and maliciously racist at worst. The fact that virtually every black American will experience poverty at some point during his or her adulthood speaks volumes about AIDS in America.