Rather disturbing news from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that over one million Americans (approximately 1.1 million) are living with HIV/AIDS.
Some good news is that research is showing that the number of people who do not know they are infected has dropped from 25% to 21%.
Education and testing resources are one of the key reasons more people are being tested.
HIV/AIDS is till more prevalent in black Americans, both male and female, and in gay men.
Various theories abound as to why that is.
Some attribute the resurgence of ecstasy in gay clubs, that causes the user to abandon protection (condoms) that he would normally use.
The subject of "being on the down low" (or the DL) has been around now for several years, particularly in the black community. This is a term used for (generally) black men who have the outward appearance of being straight, but have secret relationships with other men and feel unable to be honest about their orientation.
Author J.L. King spoke on the Oprah show about this lifestyle and wrote about it in his book "On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of 'Straight' Black Men Who Sleep with Men".
Of course, the down low lifestyle is certainly not unique to black men, although King asserts that being gay, particularly in the black community, is seen as unacceptable and he believes this has directly lead the secrecy attached to being on the down low. He tells Oprah that unsuspecting wives and girlfriends are being exposed to the HIV virus in huge numbers and the down low lifestyle is partly to blame. He also says that condom use is low.
Others argue that education and awareness has been lacking in the black community and more emphasis should be placed on these factors. Community leaders have urged pastors and church leaders to be more willing to talk about this disease.
The most regrettable thing about HIV/AIDS is that it is preventable. And no matter what our color or sexual orientation, the most important factors of education, awareness and most importantly, personal responsibility are how we prevent this disease.
For more information on HIV/AIDS, check out the fact sheets and information section at the Center for Disease Control's website at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/
For testing centers near you, click here : http://www.hivtest.org/
For support, call the National AIDS hot line at 1-800-342-AIDS
HIV/AIDS is not curable but it IS treatable! Testing and early intervention is crucial!
Has HIV/AIDS affected your life or the life of someone you know?
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