The headline reads, "HIV Among Black Women 5 times Higher than Previously Thought" It was some of the biggest news in HIV last week. And I'm still not sure how to take it. Yay, I'm excited that I have data to support what I've known all along. Information from a study conducted in six US cities with incidence rates among Black women that rival those of sub-Saharan nations. Now the scary part...how will people use this data to push an agenda that could be contrary to good public health policy and initiatives? Does it resonate with young women I see on the streets going on about their daily lives whether it be at school, work, church, or the kitchen table? Does this story resonate with the same women who tell me why they don't use condoms or need to get tested? Will the worried well be the only ones to hear and see the headline? Will conspiracy theorists come out of the woodwork espousing rhetoric that make it easy to discount and not heed the alarm bell ringing in my head?
The headline read, "... Among Black Women 5 times Higher." Not 5 times Higher pay. Not 5 times higher to be in a monogamous relationship. Not 5 times higher to feel safe within their community. It read, "... than Previously Thought." You know previous thoughts can be dangerous depending on who's doing the thinking. Previous thoughts had us believing that we weren't at risk. Previous thoughts had us believing that it was a gay disease. Previous thoughts equate risk with title and pedigree. Previous thoughts had us accepting that Black women were not a priority in the epidemic (financially or otherwise). Previous thoughts had tried and true interventions thrown by the way side for cookie cutter models that never work in practice the way they did in theory.
The headline reads, "HIV Among Black Women 5 times Higher than Previously Thought." I look forward to it reading "HIV Cure, Black Women First to See the Results."