AIDS Q&A 2012: Are Blacks Still Suffering The Most?

HIV/AIDS expert Keith Crawford answers a few questions about the epidemic and its effects on the Black community.

Posted: 12/06/2012 04:29 PM EST

(AIDS patient Michael Campbell, 58, receives his daily does of medication at Broadway House for Continuing care, New Jersey's only specialized nursing facility for people living with HIV/AIDS. Photo: AIDS-USA/REUTERS/Mike Segar)

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in the African American community made its “debut” in the early 1980′s and is entering its third decade as one of this country’s most critical and challenging health issue. Among African Americans, HIV/AIDS has produced especially grave outcomes.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics 2006 Report, HIV/AIDS is one of the top 10 leading causes of death for African Americans; and in the same year African Americans accounted for more than half (54 percent) of estimated new HIV infections in the United States. About 72% of new HIV infections occur in men who have sex with men, and 57% occur among African Americans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that a quarter of those living with HIV, more than 250,000 do not know they are infected.

To help answer your questions and dispel myths about a disease that continues to pervade the Black community, recently invited noted HIV/AIDS expert Dr. Keith Crawford to host an hour-long Q&A session on Facebook. The event was an overwhelming success!

Here is a complete list of the questions and answers from this dynamic, engaging conversation:

1. How often should I be tested for HIV?

Dr. Crawford: I would recommend annually if you are sexually active and practicing safe sex. You should integrate HIV screening with your routine annual medical checkups that monitor for heart disease, diabetes, kidney function, mental health, etc. Be sure to ask for it.

Unfortunately, many of our medical providers are still in the Stone Age and do not offer HIV testing to their patients.

2. Is it safe for two people with HIV to have sex?

Dr. Crawford: Not necessarily. It MAY possibly be OK if both persons are on medicines controlling their HIV and taking their medicines properly. Otherwise, the medicines that work for you may not be effective against the other person’s virus so they could infect you with a different virus that’s difficult to treat.

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