Forum Stresses HIV Threat to Black Women

Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 2

Many in the African American community are alarmingly silent about the threat HIV poses to black women.

That was the message from black HIV experts and activists at an AIDS forum Saturday at King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine & Science in Willowbrook.

Nearly seven in 10 women newly diagnosed with AIDS are black, even though they make up just 12% of the female population, panelists said.

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“The women we serve, they’re wives, they’re professionals . . . in what we call monogamous relationships, but they’re getting infected” by their male partners, Broadus said.

In fact, these men often have sexual relationships with other men, or have come from prison, where such sex is not uncommon, Broadus and others said.

These men on the “downlow” become infected through unprotected sex and bring the virus home to their unwitting female partners, said former Assemblyman Roderick Wright.

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Overall, 47% of those living with HIV in the United States are black, the highest rate among any racial group, according to 2003 figures. AIDS was the leading cause of death for black women ages 24 to 34 in 2002.

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