The Changing Face of HIV

July 18, 2011

by Saquoia freeman
The face of HIV is changing and people are still not aware of the high risk that Black women have in getting HIV.


Richmond, Va.-From 1980 to 1983 HIV was called the Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID). Homosexuals, Haitians, Hemophiliacs and Heroine users were known has the four H’s to be at a high risk of getting HIV. Now this disease known for having a heavy presence in the gay community is now known for a having a heavy presence in the Black community and Black women have a high risk. The face of HIV has changed and there have been many reports discussing Black women and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 64% of women diagnosed with AIDS in 2009 were Black.

Click AIDS to view a June 2011 document on HIV/AIDS and women.

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“Back in the day there were people saying this was a White gay man’s disease”, said Linda Villarosa, an award-winning author and journalist.

Linda Villarosa is journalism professor at CUNY and has been reporting on the HIV/AIDS epidemic for about 30 years. She is currently a reporter for a Frontline documentary about HIV and the Black community. Villarosa knows that HIV is running rapid in the Black community. However, there are many young Blacks that do not know that Black women have the highest risk among women. Three Black young adults gave different answers to what disease they think Black women are at a high risk for. 

“I knew that Black gay men were at a very high risk, but I didn’t know Black women were at a high risk,” said Ashley George, 25, from Newport News, Virginia. 
“I think Black women have a high risk of getting Ovarian Cancer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was HIV because there are many cases of HIV in my area,” said Avery Jones, 20, from Bowie, Maryland. 
“Domesctic violence seems to be killing a lot of Black women,” said Preston Armsted, 25 from Richmond, Virginia.
There are different reasons why Black women are put at a high risk for HIV.   
“Beliefs about HIV/AIDS, men having sex with men (MSM) and jail tattoos increase the risk of HIV for Black women,” said Kellie Rupard-Schorr, the HIV Prevention/Education Specialist for the Williamsburg AIDS Network in Williamsburg, Virginia. 
Villarosa also knows reasons why Black women are put at a high risk for HIV. Since HIV is increasing in the Black community another reason is Black women and their relationships. 
“Majority of Black women tend to date inside their race,” said Villarosa. 
According to Villarosa, unprotected sex, income and where you live are other factors. 
Cities where Blacks live have the most HIV cases. According to Rupard-Schorr, in 2010 Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, the District of Columbia and Norfolk are the top six cities with HIV cases.