Alabama is one of 33 states that mandates HIV education in high schools. Among those states, students receive an average of 2.2 hours of education, and most focus on abstinence. [AIDS in Black America: A Public Health Crisis]
When I started doing this work in 1986, roughly 20 percent of all of the people in the United States who were living with AIDS were African-American. The most recent statistics from the Center for Disease Control indicate that 45 percent of all the new cases of HIV infection are amongst African-Americans. … If we continue on the current trend, in the year 2015, especially in the South, it will probably be the case that 5 to 6 percent of all African-American adults who are sexually active will be infected with the virus.
— Dr. Robert Fullilove, on today’s Fresh Air about AIDS in the African-American community.
Of the more than 1 million people in the U.S. infected with HIV, nearly half are black men, women and children — even though blacks make up about 13 percent of the population. AIDS is the primary killer of African-Americans ages 19 to 44, and the mortality rate is 10 times higher for black Americans than for whites.
Every nine and a half minutes, somewhere in America, someone is infected with HIV. Half of them are black.
by looking at the pace with which viruses evolved, you can reverse engineer your way back into a date range. … Research suggests that the key year was around 1908, but the range is a bit wider – 1884 to 1924. Somewhere in there, the first HIV is loose in the world, has come out of the chimp population and is infecting humans.
— On today’s Fresh Air, the history of the HIV virus.
The ability for a society to grasp the connection between sexual culture and the spread of this epidemic is just essential to reversing it. And it seems like the more the United States or other Western nations get involved, the farther societies get away from that kind of moment of reckoning.
— On today’s Fresh Air, how international AIDS organizations working in Africa went off in the wrong direction in fighting the spread of HIV across the continent.
The difference between the men who were circumcised and the men who weren’t was 8 to 1 in terms of their infectiousness.
Monday: Journalist Craig Timberg says that for years, international AIDS groups overlooked important factors in the spread of the HIV virus, such as the effectiveness of circumcision. Timberg, the former Johannesburg bureau chief for The Washington Post, explores the history of the HIV virus and the efforts to fight the AIDS epidemic in his book Tinderbox: How the West Sparked the AIDS Epidemic and how the World Can Finally Overcome It.
Some Interviews Over The Years From Fresh Air
Seeing so many friends who were truly young and friends of friends — you know, I’m a gay guy, living in New York City during the ’80s and ’90s during the height of the pandemic — it was like living in wartime but a very specific kind of war … it [affected] a very limited sector of the population and there were other people beside you everywhere who were not fighting it, who were not even conscious of it. It was very strange to feel so in the trenches and to be going from hospital to hospital — more than one a day sometimes — to visit people who were dying. It did cross my mind that my fervent will to live — and it is fervent, and it is still in operation, and it is still, in fact, the area of my life of which I’m most optimistic, and I think that people really do tend to be hugely optimistic about their own chances of survival going from day to day — but it did cross my mind and it remains in my mind that all of the people that I know who did die, they didn’t die because they want to live less than I do. They didn’t die because their desire to continue existing was found wanting in ways that my own is somehow better. And that is tremendously instructive to me.
— David Rakoff in an interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, on seeing his young friends die from AIDS in the 1980s.