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Time to Tackle Why African Americans Are Hit the Hardest by HIV/AIDS

Time to Tackle Why African Americans Are Hit the Hardest by HIV/AIDS

Racial disparities in health and health care in the United States are pervasive, persistent and well-documented, and if there is one disease that really illustrates this fact, it is HIV/AIDS.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are approximately 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in this country, including more than 500,000 African Americans. African Americans account for almost half of all HIV infections in the U.S., and are the racial/ethnic demographic group most affected by HIV. This means that while we have made progress addressing HIV/AIDS rates in the African-American community, we have a long way to go. The Affordable Care Act, along with a national awareness campaign, hopes to bring us further along in eradicating this disease.

Even though individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups make up about one-third of the nation’s population, they make up over half of the estimated 50 million Americans with no health insurance coverage. An estimated 20.8 percent of African Americans are uninsured, compared with 16.3 percent of all Americans. Currently, fewer than one in five (17 percent) people living with HIV has private insurance to help cover the costs of treatment and management of the disease, while nearly 30 percent do not have any coverage at all. Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides health care benefits to people with low incomes and those living with disabilities, is a major source of coverage for people living with HIV/AIDS, as is Medicare, the Federal program for seniors and people with disabilities.

The Affordable Care Act is one of the most significant pieces of legislation in the fight against HIV/AIDS in our history. As of September 23, 2010, insurers are no longer able to deny coverage to children living with HIV or AIDS. The parents of as many as 17.6 million children with pre-existing conditions no longer have to worry that their children will be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Insurers also are prohibited from cancelling or rescinding coverage to adults or children because of a mistake on an application. And insurers can no longer impose lifetime caps on insurance benefits.  Because of the law, 105 million Americans no longer have a lifetime dollar limit on essential health benefits. These changes will begin to improve access to insurance for people living with HIV/AIDS and other disabling conditions and help people with these conditions retain the coverage they have.

For people who have been locked out of the insurance market because of their health status, including those living with HIV/AIDS, the law created the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. More than 90,000 people—some of whom are living with HIV or AIDS—have already enrolled in this program, which has helped change lives and, in many cases, save them by allowing them to move to more affordable and applicable insurance coverage.

But it is not just the Affordable Care Act that is working to tackle HIV/AIDS rates in the African-American community. Planned Parenthood and its over 750 health centers are on the front lines of this fight. Planned Parenthood is among the nation’s leading providers of HIV screening and preventative care services. In 2011 alone, Planned Parenthood health centers conducted 680,000 HIV tests, a 16 percent increase from 2010.

February 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and while it gives us an opportunity to focus on the fight at hand it is also a reminder of the work ahead. These disparities can change. These disparities must change.

 

Related Care2 Coverage

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Photo from Bordicia34 via flickr.

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112 comments

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8:33AM PST on Feb 17, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

7:45AM PST on Feb 13, 2013

thanks

7:44AM PST on Feb 13, 2013

Hello!! Can anyone say Condoms, please?!?! I mean really, let's just put that on the table.

10:47PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

@ Mary C --- "What does having insurance have to do with contracting AIDS or HIV, or stopping someone from getting it????? "

Mary, it isn't about contracting it, but having health insurance is a way that people pay for their care. People without insurance are more likely to go undiagnosed and untreated.

Education and ongoing research are necessary to beat this disease. With research comes new treatments including vaccines.

3:17PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Its sad, and we need to put more research and people in africa to help this huge!!!!!!!!!!!problem

10:03PM PST on Feb 10, 2013

Only 5 ways to contract AIDS/HIV --During sexual contact (most common); During pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding; As a result of injection drug use; As a result of occupational exposure: and As a result of a blood transfusion with infected blood or an organ transplant from an infected donor(rare).

So more educations, condoms and less sex.

1:43PM PST on Feb 10, 2013

We need to continue as we are in research.

For example for women only there is a gel that attacks and kills the virus, it works 30% of the time, the gel has been discovered for about 2-3 yrs.

Vaccine is critical before the virus piggybacks an airborn virus

The virus is blood born, it cares not what race you are just that your human and your blood is red...virus finds humans delicious

1:39PM PST on Feb 10, 2013

OF COURSE HIV IS CONTACTED MANY WAYS BUT I AM SURE THOSE WAYS ARE LESS THAT IRRESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOR. EVEN BEHAVING RESPONSIBLY CAN HURT A PERSON BELIEVE ME. I BEHAVED RESPONSIBLY EVEN BEFORE OTHERS DID IN THE 1970'S. I STARTED TO BECOME SUSPECT IN THE 1970'S AND I WAS NOT COMFORTABLE MEETING PEOPLE AND DATING. IN THE 1980'S I STATED IT WAS DOWNRIGHT DANGEROUS TO DATE PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF ONE'S CIRCLE THAT THEY KNEW ABOUT AND I DID NOT DATE AND WHEN I DID I WAS CAREFUL. I CAN PROVE SO.

LOT OF GOOD THAT DID. I NEVER GOT HIV BUT I CAN PROVE THAT THE VERY MILITARY SYSTEM I WAS IN DID EVERYTHING THEY COULD TO DISEASE ME HERE IN AMERICA. INTELLIGENCIA IS EVIL AND WILL DISEASE ANYONE THEY DONT LIKE ESPECIALLY IF THEY KNOW THAT PERSON IS CAREFUL. I WILL WIN.

1:35PM PST on Feb 10, 2013

WHY. EDUCATION, PARENT'S PROBLEMS, HOLLYWOOD AND TOO MUCH DRINK AND DRUGS STILL INFLUENCING THE BLACK COMMUNITY. I WIN.

10:37AM PST on Feb 10, 2013

tks

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