But otherwise, good article. Black men get HIV because Black men g
Activist draws attention to AIDS in black community
The Bakersfield Californian | Sunday, Jan 29 2012 08:45 PM
Last Updated Sunday, Jan 29 2012 08:46 PM
As if Kern County's African-American community didn't have enough challenges -- a high dropout rate, high unemployment and poverty rates -- along comes something else that is unnerving and devastating the lives of a whole community, particularly young black men. I'm talking about HIV/AIDS. Don't believe me? I must admit I found it a little unbelievable at first. But after reviewing the documentation on the subject provided by national and county health experts, it left me wondering why this situation existed. And what -- and who -- is doing something about it.
Reville Niccols is a 30-something African-American man who is attempting to bring the issue of AIDS in the black community to the forefront. Niccols serves as chairman of the AIDS Advisory Board, whose purpose is to advise the Kern County Board of Supervisors and the county health officer on AIDS and conditions of people living with HIV/AIDS. He holds a master's degree in psychology and clinical psychology from Virginia State University and is working on a doctorate degree in clinical psychology from the University of Neveda, Reno. His dissertation project, HIV among the African-American community, is expected to be completed in May.
These are the facts: African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV. While only representing 14 percent of the U.S. population, blacks account for 44 percent of all new HIV infections, according to the most recent data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2009. This means African Americans account for a higher proportion of HIV infections at all stages of disease -- from new infections to deaths.
Sadly, it's a similar picture in Kern County. Since 1981, Kern County has reported a total of 2,617 cumulative HIV/AIDS cases. According to the county Public Health Services Department, 36 percent of these cases are Hispanic, 36 percent are white and 25 percent are African-American. But blacks in Kern County make up just 5.4 percent of the population. Again, the HIV/AIDS infection rate is disproportionately higher. Males constitute 90 percent of the cases, females 9 percent and transgender account for 1 percent.