COMMENTARY BY FLONORA MERRITT.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is global and the disease has infected millions of black women from the ages of 25 to 45 as well as our black youth. This is an issue that could bring black women and young black teens come closer to extinction. Although HIV/AIDS ads have been playing for years, do people really pay attention? People are dying from this disease and not enough is being done. Can the Democratic presidential candidates solve this growing epidemic?
During the 2007 Democratic Presidential Forum on PBS, hosted by Tavis Smiley, Michel Martin of NPR asked the candidates the following question on this issue: “I'm sure you'll agree there are a lot of beautiful young people out here in the audience today who are very pleased to be here and conversing, so you can imagine how disturbed we were to find out from the Centers for Disease Control that although African Americans are 17% of all American teenagers, they are 69% of the population of teenagers diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. …What is your plan to stop and to protect these young people from this scourge?”
The responses by some of the candidates were very captivating. Many of the candidates were redundant in their answers, but a few stood out. To me, Senator Hillary Clinton said something very truthful about the AIDS epidemic. She said that if white women were heavily infected with the deadly virus, there would be a completely different story—The pharmacies would be loaded with the medicines that cure and treat HIV/AIDS. So the AIDS problem turns into a race thing—which I totally agree with.
Another candidate, Senator Joe Biden, brought up an interesting point too. Biden believes that people should face reality. HIV/AIDS affects everyone and anyone can get the deadly virus. Biden admitted that he’s been tested for AIDS and that it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
That brings up a good point. Many Black women think that HIV/AIDS will never infect them. Think again. This killer STD doesn’t have eyes. It doesn’t discriminate. It will continue to infect anyone who gives it the opportunity to do so and given the opportunity HIV/AIDS could destroy every living being until no one is left.
This issue needs to be discussed. Black women and young black teens need to know what this disease is, how people contract the disease and how to prevent themselves from getting the disease. If more black women and young black teens become aware of this epidemic and how it affects them, then maybe there is hope. Right now, all we have left is hope.