As an infidelity expert and a Black woman, I would be remiss if I neglected to speak out about this issue on World AIDS Day – especiallysincesame sex infidelity -- better known in the Black community as the “down low” is the primary way Black women are contracting HIV.
I think ignorance is partially responsible for the high rates of HIV/AIDS among Black women. No sane Black woman would willingly put herself at risk for HIV/AIDS if she were fully aware of the facts about HIV/AIDS – the statistics, methods of transmission, the prevalence of the disease among Black women, and the things about her lifestyle that put her at risk.
Many Black women are ignorant about these things concerning HIV/AIDS, and that ignorance invites infection.
For Black women, ignorance about HIV/AIDS can take many forms. But the average Black woman’s ignorance concerning HIV/AIDS fall into two main categories:
1. ignorance about the facts or statistics regarding Black women and HIV/AIDS
2. ignorance of the circumstances in her lifestyle which put her at risk for HIV infection
Below is a detailed look at these two areas of ignorance which put Black women at risk for HIV/AIDS.
Ignorance About HIV/AIDS Facts And Statistics
● Ignorance that that HIV/AIDS is no longer a predominantly gay white male disease, but is now a predominantly Black disease, with Black women being the highest risk category
● Ignorance that Blacks are the hardest hit of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
● Ignorance that despite the fact that Blacks account for 12 percent of the U.S. population, they represent over 50% of all HIV/AIDS cases,
●Ignorance that HIV/AIDS is now a major health crisis for Black women.
● Ignorance that HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for Black women 25-34 years of age.
● Ignorance that almost 70% of all newly diagnosed HIV-positive women in the United States are Black women.
● Ignorance that 62% of women living with HIV are Black women
● Ignorance that Black women are 33 times more likely than white women to be living with HIV/AIDS.
● Ignorance that Black women are most likely to be infected with HIV as a result of unprotected sex with men who are HIV positive.
● Ignorance that the majority of Black men who are HIV positive have no idea they are infected.
● Ignorance that exposure to another sexually-transmitted disease like gonorrhea, syphilis, or chlamydia can increase her risk of getting HIV.
● Ignorance that Blacks with AIDS have shorter survival times, and don’t live as long as people of other races and ethnic groups who have AIDS.
● Ignorance that there is NO CURE for HIV/AIDS, but there are treatments that can help manage the disease and keep it from getting worse.
Ignorance of Lifestyle Circumstances that Put Her at Risk for HIV/AIDS
● Ignorance that her husband or boyfriend is a potential source of HIV/AIDS.
● Ignorance of her sex partner’s sexual history, or his true sexual orientation.
● Ignorance that her husband or boyfriend partner has other sex partners, and that she is not in a monogamous relationship as she assumed.
● Ignorance that her husband or boyfriend is sexually involved with another man, and that she is a victim of same sex infidelity.
● Ignorance that the most common way for a Black woman to become infected with HIV is by having unprotected sex with a Black man on the down low.
● Ignorance about how to accurately determine if her husband or boyfriend is on the down low.
● Ignorance about her man’s HIV status – that he may be HIV positive, and may have already infected her with HIV.
● Ignorance about her own HIV status
●I gnorance that if she is HIV positive, early treatment can keep the disease from turning into full blown AIDS
Ignorance in any one of the areas above can invite infection.
My Message to Black Women on World AIDS Day
The best way to overcome your ignorance in these areas is to educate yourself and your sisters about HIV/AIDS. Remember - ignorance invites infection.
Knowledge is power. The more you know about HIV/AIDS, and how it’s transmitted, and the lifestyle factors that put you at risk for this disease, the less likely you’ll be to engage in behavior that can jeopardize your health.
It would be a tragedy if you were to become infected with HIV through no fault of your own, because of something you didn’t know. Abstain, or practice safe sex.
Get tested. Know your own and your partner’s HIV status. To find a testing center near you, visit hivtest.org or, on your cell phone, text your zip code to Know IT (566948).
If you are, or have been sexually involved with someone whose HIV status you don’t know, GET TESTED RIGHT AWAY. The longer you wait to find out, the worse it will be your health later on, if it turns out that you are HIV positive.
Resources to Help Combat Ignorance About Black Women and HIV/AIDS
In an effort to help eliminate much of the ignorance surrounding Black women, the "down low" and HIV/AIDS, I've compiled the following resources, both of which are FREE.
The Black Woman's HIV/AIDS Awareness Quiz
This Black Woman's HIV/AIDS Awareness Quiz was designed to help Black women identify the gaps in their knowledge, and behavior in their lifestyles that put them at risk for HIV/AIDS. The quiz will help her pinpoint any changes she needs to make in order to safeguard her health and decrease her chances of becoming an HIV/AIDS statistic.
The Black Woman's HIV/AIDS Awareness Quiz can be found on my blog Black Women, the Down Low and HIV/AIDS at http://blackwomen-thedownlow-hivaids.blogspot.com/ I strongly suggest that every Black women this quiz herself, then share it with her female friends and relatives, and encourage them to take it too. With Black women being in the highest risk category for HIV/AIDS, a woman's health, her well-being, her very life depends on being well informed. Ignorance only invites infection.
The Down Low Dozen Tip Sheet
Part 1 of this FREE 2-part tip sheet describes a discreet 3-step procedure a Black women can use to out if her husband or boyfriend man is on the down low, without the risk of looking foolish or making false accusations. Part 2 of the Down Low Dozen tip sheet provides practical advice on what to do if a woman finds out her man is on the down low, tips on how to confront him about his down low status, questions to ask, precautions to take, and places she can turn to for help. . For a FREE copy of the Down Low Dozen tip sheet, e-mail DownLowDozen.gmail.com with "DL Dozen-adn" in the subject line.
About Ruth Houston:
Infidelity expert Ruth Houston, is the founder of www.InfidelityAdvice.com and the author of Is He Cheating on You? - 829 Telltale Signs, which documents practically every known sign of infidelity.
Frequently called on by the media to comment on popular infidelity issues and infidelity-related breaking news, Ruth has been quoted in USA Today, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Cosmopolitan, Essence, the New York Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Houston Chronicle, the Toronto Sun, Maclean's, Chatelaine, Upscale, Heart & Soul, MSN Lifestyle, FoxNews.com, ABCNews.com, msnbc.com, Divorce360.com, AOL Black Voices, iVillage, Reuters, AP, UPI and numerous other print and online media worldwide.
Ruth has also been a guest on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, Fox & Friends, The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, NBC News, BBC, CBC, WCBS, ABC News, Fox News, 1010WINS, Sirius Satellite Radio, the Michael Baisden Show, Living in Black, the Breakfast Club and over 470 radio and TV news and talk shows in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, New Zealand, Australia, Africa, and the Caribbean.
For more information, visit the following: