Monday, August 4, 2008

HIV and AIDS Testing for Manhattan

All of us need to commit to focus attention on HIV testing and prevention in Manhattan and to demand from our elected leaders increased leadership in this area. A number of recent developments have caused me to seek to catalyze Upper Manhattan communities to advocate for HIV/AIDS testing throughout Manhattan:

1) The NYC government announced in late June 2008 its decision to test all adults in the Bronx for HIV/AIDS. The decision should be applauded, but it highlights our needs in Manhattan. Manhattan has the highest level of HIV infection and AIDS in NYC. The city government needs to focus its AIDS testing and prevention resources on Manhattan with at least as much commitment as it is demonstrating in the Bronx. The article below from the New York Daily News mentions Manhattan's needs in describing the NYC choice to begin its mass testing efforts in the Bronx.

A 2004 report from the NYC Department of Health showed that Manhattan had 50% more AIDS cases than the Bronx and that Manhattan had far more individuals living with AIDS than any other Borough. Here is a link to that report.

2) In late July 2008, CNN focused on the Alarming rates of AIDS in the African American community and the lack of commitment by the US Federal Government to prevention efforts in the United States. The US spends billions on AIDS prevention overseas but less than one billion dollars each year on domestic prevention.

3) In Early August 2008, the Center for Disease Control announced that there were 40% more HIV positive individuals in the US than the CDC had previously believed. It is urgent that all in Manhattanites know their status and take steps to avoid the spread of HIV and AIDS. If the national numbers are 40% higher than previously believed, the Manhattan numbers might very well represent an even greater undercount. While we hope that Manhattan's numbers turn out to be more accurate than the CDC's national numbers of HIV infected individuals, only a strong testing regime will allow us to be certain.

4) Before the new, alarming CDC numbers came out, I attended, in late July 2008, a private event sponsored by the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA - pronounced en-BLAK-uh or simply BLAK-uh). Its leader is the former Borough President of Manhattan, C. Virginia Fields, a dynamic and impressive leader who is certain to continue to groundbreaking fight against AIDS started by my mother-in-law, Debra Fraser Howze when she founded NBLCA more than 20 years ago. At the event, a group of young professionals from all over the NYC area were educated about the continued spread of AIDS amongst African Americans in NYC and throughout the US. NY State is the state in the US with the largest number of African Americans with AIDS, and the numbers continue to increase. Many of the other stats were astonishing even to those of us who have been associated with the AIDS fight for years. Below, and at is a sampling of these stats:

HIV/AIDS in 2005
  • According to the 2000 census, blacks make up approximately 13% of the US population.
  • However, in 2005, blacks accounted for 18,121 (49%) of the estimated 37,331 new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the 33 states with long-term, confidential name-based HIV reporting.
  • Of all black men living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was sexual contact with other men, followed by injection drug use and high-risk heterosexual contact.
  • Of all black women living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was high-risk heterosexual contact, followed by injection drug use.
  • Of the estimated 141 infants perinatally infected with HIV, 91 (65%) were black (CDC, HIV/AIDS Reporting System, unpublished data, December 2006).
  • Of the estimated 18,849 people under the age of 25 whose diagnosis of HIV/AIDS was made during 2001–2004 in the 33 states with HIV reporting, 11,554 (61%) were black.
  • Of persons whose diagnosis of AIDS had been made during 1997–2004, a smaller proportion of blacks (66%) were alive after 9 years compared with American Indians and Alaska Natives (67%), Hispanics (74%), whites (75%), and Asians and Pacific Islanders (81%).

AIDS in 2005

  • Blacks accounted for 20,187 (50%) of the estimated 40,608 AIDS cases diagnosed in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • The rate of AIDS diagnoses for black adults and adolescents was 10 times the rate for whites and nearly 3 times the rate for Hispanics. The rate of AIDS diagnoses for black women was nearly 23 times the rate for white women. The rate of AIDS diagnoses for black men was 8 times the rate for white men.
  • The 185,988 blacks living with AIDS in the 50 states and the District of Columbia accounted for 44% of the 421,873 people in those areas living with AIDS. Of the 68 US children (younger than 13 years of age) who had a new AIDS diagnosis, 46 were black.
  • Since the beginning of the epidemic, blacks have accounted for 397,548 (42%) of the estimated 952,629 AIDS cases diagnosed in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • From the beginning of the epidemic through December 2005, an estimated 211,559 blacks with AIDS died.
  • African-Americans have the highest AIDS case rate per 100,000 population of all ethnic/racial groups-66.4 per 100,000 population compared with 8.2 for whites. African-American males have an AIDS case rate of 125.2, over seven times the rate for white males who have a rate of 17.8 per 100,000 population. African-American women have an AIDS case rate of 49.8, over 20 times the rate for white women who have a rate of 2.4 per 100,000 population.


  1. These are unavoidable and incredible facts to digest. As an African American woman and physician in training, I know that this epidemic will change fabric of our communities. Earlier this morning, I read an article in which the Ford Foundation acknowledged that globally "people are living longer than ever with (HIV and AIDS), deeply entrenched social taboos continue to stand in the way of AIDS sufferers living lives characterized by dignity, purpose, and access to opportunity." At the bedrock of the hope of eradicating HIV/AIDS is the power of education, the promise of medicine and the truth that every human life is vulnerable.

  2. Here is an interesting article on the apparent lack of connection between incarceration and HIV / AIDS from the