All Articles Tagged "AIDS"
Every 47 minutes, a woman will be diagnosed with HIV in the United States. That’s why MadameNoire is supporting The Red Pump Project’s efforts to change that statistic for the better.
Today, March 10, is National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and in honor of this important day, we’re encouraging you to #RockTheRedPump. Rocking the red pump is about more than putting on your favorite pair of red heels — or sneakers — it’s about calling attention to an epidemic that is sweeping through our community and reminding people that they aren’t invisible. Sometimes seeing activity from a movement like this is all someone needs to remember to practice safe sex or to get tested or bring up the topic with their partner, or eventheir children. That’s all we and The Red Pump Project are asking you to do today.
We’ve already tweeted about it, instagramed it, and announced it here in this post. Now it’s time for you to take it from here. Take a pic in your favorite red pumps and tweet it to us @MadameNoire and @RedPumpProj with the hashtag #RockTheRedPump and we’ll retweet it so we all can do more to inspire someone to care more about their sexual health today.
Today as we observe National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, let us consider the statistics surrounding women and the disease.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, women make up 24 percent of HIV diagnoses among adults in America. The risks are even greater for African-American women—with one in every 32 women being diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. Statistics further state that 85 percent of African-American women with HIV received it through high-risk sex.
ESSENCE.com caught up with NWGHAAD ambassador Cookie Johnson, wife of famed basketball player Magic Johnson, to find out how she is helping spread the message of awareness through social media and how women can keep themselves safe.
On how she’s working to get word out that women should be tested:
We’re trying to reach them where they live, which is basically through Twitter and Facebook. Everyone needs to talk about this. Part of the problem is, when my husband made his announcement back in 1991, people were dying. It was a new disease. People weren’t familiar with it. People were dying at alarming rates. Now, with the medications they have, people are still getting the disease at high rates, but they’re not dying like they used to. I wonder if that’s why people aren’t afraid of it anymore. I think we really need to bring attention to the fact that there are still huge numbers—especially women and girls—who are getting this disease.
How her marriage changed since Magic made his HIV announcement in 1991:
It actually got stronger. When you’re faced with a tragedy like that, you either do one of two things. You either band together and become a close-knit unit or you completely fall apart and go your separate ways. It’s a lot to handle. We were married a month when it happened. It was very difficult. Everything was new. I found out I was pregnant that month. I wanted to do everything possible to keep it together and fight for it. My first instinct was to go to God and get everything from Him and number two, I was going to fight for my family.
Be sure to read what other advice Cookie has for women and also when she started talking to her children about sex over on Essence.
Do you get tested on a regular basis?
Q: I recently heard that HIV can remain dormant and undetected in your body for up to 10 years. If that’s true, what would you recommend as far as a testing schedule whether you’re single or with a monogamous partner?
It may take up to 10 years or more for someone to have AIDS. AIDS, as you may know, is the final stages of the disease, when the HIV virus damages a person’s body to the point where they start to get infections that healthy people don’t usually get. An example of a type of infection seen a lot in AIDS patients is Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (aka PCP).
The way HIV works is that once a person gets infected with the virus, it takes about 4 to 10 weeks before it can be detected in the blood (aka seroconversion). For a small group of people, it may even be more than that. At that time, the person may or may not be experiencing any symptoms. But if they are, they may complain about such things as a fever, headache, sore throat, general muscle aches, weight loss, or diarrhea. During this period of time, the virus is heavily present and the body is trying to fight it by making antibodies against the HIV virus. Most HIV tests look for the antibodies so even if the HIV virus remains dormant and undetected, a person’s HIV status can be picked up by these tests through existing antibodies.
What would be the best testing schedule? The CDC recommends that everyone between ages 13 – 64 should be tested. A repeat testing should be done if you have a new sexual partner. Ideally, it would be best to wait 3 months after the 1st sexual contact with your new partner. What would be even better is if you have your new partner tested before you even consider sleeping with him or her. People who are at very high risk for HIV (homosexual males, IV drug users, and those with multiple sex partners) are recommended to be tested every 6 to 12 months.
What can also take up to 10 years in HIV? The average amount of years an HIV-infected person who refuses treatment has from the moment the virus is seen in the blood.
From The Root
From Martin Luther King Jr. and the fight for civil rights in the 1960s to Rev. Al Sharpton and the fight against racial profiling and police brutality today, members of the clergy have been key leaders in some of the black community’s most important battles. Yet there is one issue plaguing the community on which black pastors, as a whole, have not been perceived as leaders: the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Despite the fact that African Americans now lead the nation in new cases of the HIV virus, and the fact that AIDS is the third leading cause of death among black men and women ages 35 to 44, the issue has not been embraced as a priority social justice issue by many predominantly black churches. While black pastors, for instance, played key roles as visible and vocal champions of voting and voter access this election cycle, fewer have used their weight similarly to mobilize their congregations around the issue of HIV awareness, prevention and testing.
Phil Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS Institute, told The Root that “black pastors are engaged more than they were in the past, but not as much as they need to be, given the disproportionate impact on our community.” But new research shows that they could be the key to overcoming cultural barriers to fighting the spread of AIDS in the black community.
Opening a New Battlefront
According to research released earlier this year by Brown University’s Amy Nunn, the role of black pastors could be pivotal to stemming the spread of the disease. Nunn, an assistant professor of medicine (research) in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brown Medical School, specializes in studying the connection between culture, communities and AIDS policy. She was shocked that she could not find any published research on the attitudes of black pastors on the issue of AIDS and AIDS awareness and the potential role they could play in addressing the issue.
Read the rest at The Root
In July, the FDA approved the first at-home HIV test, OraQuick, for online and over-the-counter sale at retailers like Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart, and this month the product officially became available to consumers. For just $40, people can take the HIV test in the privacy of their home and within 20 minutes they will be given an answer about their status.
Though it hasn’t been on the market long, OraQuick already has one major backer, Magic Johnson. Speaking at a presentation for Orasure Technologies’ new test, Johnson, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, spoke on his own prognosis and what this test means for HIV rates down the line, particularly among minorities.
“I think it’s a game changer for us,” he said. ”When you think about the black and brown community, the stigma behind HIV and AIDS in our community … [not wanting] anybody to see us walk into a clinic or to the doctor’s office, this kit will help. That’s the people who I was thinking about most when I thought about this kit.”
According to the Huffington Post, Government officials currently estimate about 240,000 people, or one-fifth of the approximate 1.2 million people carrying HIV in the U.S., don’t know they are infected. New infections have remained the same at about 50,000 per year for the last 20 years. Magic has noticed the lack of progress.
“After I announced [my prognosis] … people were running out to actually get tested … We had a good run for about five or six years where we were talking about it openly. But fast-forward to today, people are not talking about it like they used to,” he said.
Magic is hopeful that this new at-home test will get the conversation going again, and help those who are infected cope more easily with the news.
“I think the suspense would have been taken away. Would I have reacted the same way? Yes. But what saved my life? Early detection. I got on some meds right away. In the black and brown community, what happens is a lot of time we find out too late, so the meds can’t help us.”
Let’s hope the word about this new test spreads faster than the disease. What do you think about the OraQuick at-home test?
“He doesn’t like to use protection”, “Stopping to put on a condom ruins the moment”, “I don’t want to ask him because he may think I don’t trust him”, “We got caught up in the moment and forgot”. How many times have we heard or said one of the phrases and excuses above, or other phrases and excuses about the man’s use of a condom during intercourse, or the lack thereof? And how many times have these phrases instantly turned into “I think I’m pregnant”, “I’m in pain”, “I’m here for an HIV/Aids test”, or “I’m sorry Ms., but you’ve tested positive for…”
In today’s world of sex, it is vital to one’s health and survival to prep and practice safe measures before engaging in intercourse. With the rapid number of unexpected/unwanted pregnancies, the growing rate of HIV/Aids cases, and other sexually transmitted diseases it is imperative for one to protect themselves during sex. But who is solely responsible for having protection, the man or the woman? The answer to that question is… both! One mistake both women and men make is placing the responsibility of using or being prepared with protection for intercourse solely on the man. I say that both women and men make this mistake because in most cases women expect men to always be prepared with fresh condoms in their wallet ready to pull out for action, and men simply expect women to be prepared with birth control-subconsciously disregarding the fact that sexually transmitted diseases exist; but neither party would expect for a woman to be prepared with her own condoms. Yes, her own condoms for use in her body. I know many of you have heard of the FC-female condom, but let’s take a crash review course in what it is.
According to www.avert.org, the FC is a thin sheath/pouch that women wear during sex that lines the vagina entirely. There are a variety of female condoms such as the FC, FC2 (which is a nitrile sheath or pouch 6.5 inches long,) the Condom Feminine (VA for short), the Cupid female, etc. Female condoms have flexible rings at each end, and at the closed end of the sheath the flexible ring is inserted into the vagina so the condom will hold in place, while the other end of the sheath remains outside of the vulva for entrance into the vagina. This ring serves as a guide during penetration and prevents the sheath from moving further inside the vagina. Now that we’ve had an abbreviated course on what the female condom is let’s look at the advantages of a woman using a female condom for both men and women.
Advantage 1- the female condom can be inserted into the vagina prior to sexual intercourse and it won’t interfere with the heat of the moment. Advantage 2- the man is not solely responsible for having protection. Advantage 3-it will save the man money! Advantage 4- a woman can protect herself from unknown sexually transmitted diseases her partner may have (and may be unaware that he has), and she can protect herself from unwanted pregnancies if it is used properly. Of course with every set of advantages come disadvantages. Disadvantage 1-the outer ring is visible outside of the vagina which can be unappealing, and may cause some women to feel self-conscious. Disadvantage 2- some may find the female condom difficult to remove or insert and many women may feel uncomfortable inserting it. Disadvantage 3- female condoms may be relatively expensive.
While it is true that condoms, both male and female, are not one hundred percent effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies or STD’s, they can be effective if used properly. The safest practice of premarital sex is the practice of celibacy until marriage; however, if your urges to engage in intercourse take over and turn into action, you should always have and use protection. If both parties are planning to have sex, both parties should share the responsibility for their individual safety as well as each other’s. Ladies, there is no excuse for you to not take a stand and protect yourself against the many STD’s that exist. Learn how to protect yourself even if your sex partner won’t because when the sun sets and the moon rises you will be the one at the clinic or in the Doctor’s office, crying, or in a panic state because your world has been turned upside down. Protect yourself even if he won’t protect you. Why? Because your life is worth it.
Liz Lampkin is the Author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.
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Caroline McGill is the president of Synergy Publications, an independent book publishing company launched in 2004 that has sold her own books, including the “A Dollar Outta Fifteen Cent” series and the work of Justin “Amen” Floyd, author of Anything for Profit. Her latest novel HBIC: Head B**ch In Charge is based on her life story. Her first book, the semi-autobiographical A Dollar Out of Fifteen Cent tells a story mixed with love and betrayal.
As a business owner, Caroline continues to solicit the work of talented writers to help bring their creative works before masses of urban book readers.
Madame Noire: What type of work were you doing before you launched Synergy Publications in 2004?
Caroline McGill: Prior to launching Synergy Publications I worked a few odd jobs and also did lots of illegal stuff I’m not proud of. I am fortunate to have bypassed death or a lengthy prison sentence. I wanted money the fast way, and didn’t apologize for the ways I earned it. Then in 2000 I had an “a-ha moment” and realized that enough was enough. I was getting older. Age 30 was approaching. I was determined to get my life together.
I enrolled in a community college in North Carolina full-time [and] earned my AAS in business administration in 2002. Armed with blind faith and eager to make a positive turnaround in my life, I started working on a novel that was loosely based on the crazy life I had lived.
I wanted to be my own boss so my dream was to form a legitimate business. I moved back to New York and obtained a real estate license to supplement my income while I figured out what my calling was. I rented out apartments to pay the bills meanwhile brainstorming to come up with a product to sell. I continued to work on my novel in my spare time and then made the decision to self-publish A Dollar Outta Fifteen Cent. I formed Synergy Publications in 2004 and haven’t looked back.
MN: Over the past decade the numbers of self-publishers and small publishing houses have grown. How does Synergy Publications distinguish itself from the myriad of other publishing houses?
CM: Synergy Publications distinguishes itself from other publishing houses by choosing to publish only conscious literature. I believe that life imitates art; therefore we are socially responsible about the material we put into the universe. We strive to have our readers not only be thoroughly entertained from our books, but to also become enlightened in some form or another. When folks are armed with knowledge they tend to make better decisions.
[...]All of the books I write and publish contain underlying messages. I make it a point to raise awareness by touching on issues that matter. I get calls, emails and messages from readers all the time. They get it!
MN: What resources did you use to finance your business?
CM: I used the earnings from my real estate ventures and some savings I had. I invested $5,000 or $6,000. After my first print run I just kept reinvesting the profits.
Rev. Anthony Lee, pastor at the Community of Hope church in Washington D.C., is tackling the subject of HIV/AIDS and taking a stand in the pulpit that many pastors might choose to shy away from. In an effort to promote HIV testing, Lee gets tested in front of his congregation four times out of the year. The Huffington Post reports:
At Union Seminary in 1998, the Rev. Anthony Lee helped lead a worship service on World AIDS Day. Tony (as he was called back then) described the pressures of violence and poverty, along with AIDS, in his African-American community in Washington, D.C., and called for a holistic medical, social and spiritual cure.
Today, Lee is back in the D.C. area as the founding pastor of a thriving church called Community of Hope, located in Prince George’s County. He is again working in a largely African-American community that suffers from rates of HIV/AIDS similar to some countries in Africa.
Check out more on Pastor Lee’s fight against HIV/AIDS on TheGrio.com.
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Although the racial gaps in many areas of life are closing slightly in the U.S., research says that there is still a significant gap in black life expectancy compared to that of our white counterparts. In a newly released Health Services Research study conducted by UCLA, blacks continue to live shorter lives than whites in every state in the U.S. on average, as white females live five years longer than black females and white men live seven years longer than black males.
As a part of the university’s study, the disparities are broken down by state and the average life expectancy years in between the two races. New Mexico, with the smallest disparity, has a gap of 3.76 years for men and 2.45 years for women as the average life span difference. The nation’s capital, Washington D.C., has the largest life expectancy gap, with white females living 8.55 years longer than black females and a shocking 13.77 years between the lives of the average black and white males living in the District.
The discouraging study concludes that eliminating disparities in states with the largest African-American population would impact these numbers drastically, a positive solution for the following 10 U.S. states where over 58 percent of the country’s blacks reside: New York, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Maryland, Missouri and Louisiana. In contrast, states like Kentucky, West Virginia, Nevada, Oklahoma and Washington reported smaller year gaps in life expectancy, but coincidentally, these smaller numbers were not the result of blacks with longer life span, but due to whites with shorter life spans than the national average.
With the national average life expectancy being 74.79 years for white men and 67.66 years for black men and 79.84 years for white women in comparison to 74.64 years for black women, it is clear that the statistical odds of living longer than whites in many states seems bleak.
Various factors have led to these figures that work against our community as a whole, as well as the quality of life. Experts note that key factors impact the life span of the average American, which include accessibility to health care, HIV/AIDS, homicide, obesity, diabetes and other health and life risks that are statistically proven to be disproportionately more present in the black community.
According to the study, the accessibility to health care plays a major role, stating:
“Federal and state health policies that simply concentrate on the black–white difference in a geographic region may miss important opportunities to improve overall population health or significantly reduce disparity at the national level… Blacks make up a disproportionate percentage of the low-income, Medicaid-eligible population, and we found that Massachusetts and New York, two states where black populations have longer-than-expected life expectancy, are also the states that have expanded Medicaid coverage.”
Knowing that these factors play a key role in our life span more so than they do for others in America, we must be conscious of our health and well-being in order to live more healthy and longer. That includes everything from evaluating our eating habits and our lifestyle choices, being aware of our bodies inside and out, having access to healthcare, helping slow violent crimes in our communities and a lot more.
Are we doing enough as a community to live longer? How can we combat this issue with our lifestyles to close the gap?
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Unfortunately just because you look good, doesn’t mean you’re actually good, as it relates to your overall health. As society places an emphasis on outer beauty and physical attributes, the attention surrounding internal health is many times lost in the mix of superficial advertisements, even more superficial music, and the assortment of reality shows that seem to pop up every other week. Some of us forget about our health until we actually visit our regular doctors. That is, if we even decide to visit our doctors regularly.
Flawless makeup, close to impeccable hairstyles, and donning the latest trends, may be shielding infectious diseases that could have been prevented if we simply decided to check. What’s even more problematic is that most of us don’t know, until it’s too late.
While we all love to look our best, the physical doesn’t matter if eventually your health fails, due to your own negligence of testing. So unless your signature is followed by M.D., it’s advisable to go to a physician before assuming you’re healthy.
Here are seven tests and screenings that you should certainly undergo to ensure that you’re really healthy. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »