- September 25, 2015
In an op-ed for The Advocate, activists Cleve Jones and Liz Highleyman wrote about the ways the white LGBT community can help to end the HIV & AIDS crisis in the black community.
“Although HIV has become an increasingly manageable disease for people with access to effective treatment, it continues to ravage black communities. African-Americans are more likely to be newly infected with HIV, are diagnosed later, and often receive a lower quality of care,” they wrote. “While many LGBT activists and organizations have turned their attention to same-sex marriage and other issues, we cannot let HIV and AIDS fall off our radar.”
While black people represent approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population, diagnosis rates are shockingly high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), black people accounted for 44 percent of new HIV infections in 2010, and 41 percent of all people living with an HIV infection in 2011.
“Young black gay and bisexual men have the highest rate of infection, and transgender people of color are also heavily affected,” they continued. “If these trends continue, it is estimated that black gay and bi men have a 60 percent chance of becoming HIV-positive by the time they reach age 40.”
In addition to endorsing PrEP, Jones and Highleyman provided several ways the LGBT community can come together as a whole to combat HIV & AIDS.
“HIV in African-American communities is a big, complicated, and painful issue, but there are many ways white LGBT people can act in solidarity as allies,” they explained. “We can start by speaking out and by showing up at rallies, fundraisers, protests, and vigils. We can join the Black Lives Matter fight against police abuse, mass incarceration, and the criminalization of HIV.”