AIDS and HIV still exist and the numbers for the African American community are staggering. Here are some, just in case you were lulled into a false sense of the facts, according to the CDC:
• African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV.
• Young African American gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are especially at risk of HIV infection.
• New HIV infections among African American women decreased for the first time in 2010.
• African Americans accounted for an estimated 44% of all new HIV infections among adults and adolescents (aged 13 years or older) in 2010, despite representing only 12% to14% of the US population.
• In 2010, black men accounted for 70% (14,700) of the estimated 20,900 new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent blacks. The estimated rate of new HIV infection for black men (103.6/100,000 population) was seven times as high as that of white men, twice as high as that of Latino men, and nearly three times as high as among black women.
All the stats can bee seen, here: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/racialethnic/aa/facts/index.html
OraQuick, a maker of a home HIV test, convened an all-star line up of celebrities, taste-makers, doctors and press to discuss the AIDS epidemic that dramatically, and disproportionately affects the African American community. The panel included Magic Johnson, LaLa Vasquez, Pastor Toure Roberts, Dr. Rachael Ross and Demetria Lucas and they discussed solutions to the AIDS epidemic as it relates to the Hip-Hop community.
LaLa: I grew up in Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop is my entire life. My career was started on the radio with Ludacris and then on MTV, TRL. My life is Hip-Hop so me just being a part of this is the first step. I feel like I have a voice with the younger generation and I can tell them to go buy a shirt and they're going to go buy it. I can tell them go buy this shoe that I have on and they are going to go buy the same one. I can tell them to go get tested and use my voice for that same kind of thing. And encourage my friends in the industry that I hang out with…tonight we go to the Kanye concert and have a good time [but] we need to come to things like this and talk to young people about not being ashamed, not being embarrassed. If we do it, people will see its cool…its OK to talk about this. It doesn't mean you are less of a woman or less of a man. There is a lot of misinformation out there.
Magic Johnson: When I think about 22 years ago and where we are today, we've made great strides and that's through the medicine. When I made my announcement, there was only one drug - AZT. And now, if you look at the landscape, over 30 drugs now. At that time, it was a white gay man's disease. And now, you have African Americans and Latinos leading in every category. The difference is they came together as a community and worked to make sure that everybody was educated. They changed their mindset, their lifestyle and everybody got behind the [notion] that they were going to drive the number down.
Every time I go to a church, the first questions always, "Magic, we don't believe it. No way. You must be on some magical drugs that nobody else can get." The same 32-33 drugs that are available, I'm on three of those. But, I make sure I take my meds, I work out five days a week and so I stay on top of if. That's what I've done so well. I found out early so we could jump on it.
Dr. Rachel Ross: Our biggest problem with HIV is partnership and partner sharing. There are couples that are stars, that are rich that are committed to each other. At least it appears that way on TV. So we have "Love & Hip-Hop" and we all watch what its saying is - it makes regular Black people that live all over the country - that is normal for a guy to have four or five different women. And women are vying for the top spot, instead of the only spot. [There needs to be a shift] where "I don't wanna be wifey, I don't wanna be the number one, I want to be the only one."
Magic Johnson and Chuck "Jigsaw" Creekmur, AllHipHop CEO
Photos: Carl Chisolm