As World AIDS Day approaches, black advocates say the deadly disease continues to inflict a staggering human and financial toll on the African American community.
The AIDS epidemic has claimed the lives of more than 230,000 over the past three decades. And although black Americans constitute just 12 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 46 percent of the 1.1 million Americans currently living with HIV.
To some observers, the fact that America hasn't yet won the battle against AIDS boils down to pure economics.
"If we had large numbers of millionaires, billionaires and those impacting the economy dying of AIDS, I guarantee you a cure would be found virtually overnight," says LaMont Evans, CEO of Healthy Black Communities Inc. in Atlanta.
"It's sad to say," Evans told BlackVoices, "but there's a lack of urgency in addressing this problem because those impacted are seen as disposable and not economically important."
Whether one agrees with Evans, he may be on to something: Wealth and status indeed play a huge role in the likelihood of becoming infected with HIV in America.
In a first of its kind study on the link between economic status and HIV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in 2010 that those living in poor neighborhoods were more than four times more likely to be stricken with HIV, compared with the national average. Researchers theorized that residents in poor areas had limited access to health care and other basic services, along with higher rates of substance abuse and incarceration — factors that heighten one's risk for HIV.
Read more at BV Wellness.