This paper uses credible sources to discuss the relationship between HIV and the African American population. It uses statistics to illustrate why the black population has a high prevalence rate in South Florida, USA. Various informative sources show the prevalence rates in distinct years that provide a clue on the relationship between HIV and the African American population. It explains common factors that cause a high HIV prevalence rate such as poverty and poor economic status that exposes them to poor living conditions – a leading element in the spread of HIV. Stigma and institutional racism are explained to show the impact caused in the black population, the impact caused by gender imbalance ratios, and the limited sexual networks. Conversely, sexually transmitted diseases are discussed to link the interrelationship. For this reason, the paper explains the topic in its entirety, discussing the major contributory factors leading to the relationship.
Keywords: African American, HIV/AIDS/ black population, South Florida
HIV/AIDS is a global health issue that affects various facets of health care. Common to any disease process, HIV/AIDS affects the health of individuals, resulting in the weakening of the immune response that makes the body susceptible to all kinds of infections. Despite the different effects, HIV leads to a disease burden in a country’s economy. Globally, the economy is affected because the world health institutions channel substantial amounts of money towards health care and the eradication of HIV/AIDS that would otherwise be used in the development of the economy. HIV has a uniform distribution globally; however, specific races have stable distribution curves. This paper uses information from credible sources to discuss the relationship between HIV and African American communities in the State of Florida.
African Americans have a high disproportionate infection rate in comparison to the representatives of other races residing in the United States. The Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) (2015) explains that from about 1,218,400 individuals known as living with HIV infection, Blacks have accounted for a range between 41%-44% of the population living with HIV between the years 2010 and 2012. At the same time, CDC (2016) estimates that the new infections in the United States are found as the result of black men having sex with men (10,600), followed by heterosexual black women (5,300), and finally, the heterosexual black men (2,700) of the total of 50,000 yearly found new infections. Despite the fact that African Americans account for only 12.8% of the total population, they constitute 51% of the HIV/AIDS population, in which a majority of the infections arise from the heterosexual network (Newsome & Airhihenbuwa, 2013).
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According to the CDC (2016), the rates of HIV/AIDS diagnoses are high in the South of the United States. A majority of the infections are reported to be from the non-metropolitan and the smaller metropolitan regions, a trend not similar to the urban areas, where the United States reports more diagnoses. The AIDSVU (2016) report highlights that 15.5% of the 19,552,860 are African Americans in South Florida’s population, in which 48% of people living with a diagnosed HIV in 2013 were blacks as compared to 21% of Hispanics and 28% of whites. In the report, the rate of black males living with HIV infection is 4.8 times that of the white, while that of the black females is 17.7 times that of their counterparts (AISVu, 2016). The prevalence rates are the result of male-to-male sexual contact, accounting for 66.5% and female heterosexual contact of 83.3% (AISVu, 2016). The State of Florida had the highest prevalence of new cases of HIV infection in a seven-year period (Sweeney, 2015).
According to Derrer (2014), poverty is one of the main causes of the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS among African American populations. Blacks in the United States living in poverty sum to 28.1% in comparison to a 15.9% of whites, which is a cause for the limited opportunities presented to them and the lack of upward mobility within the individual states such as South Florida (“5 reasons”, n.d.). Poverty limits an individual’s ability to access information regarding HIV/AIDS, testing, health education, and health care. Furthermore, the lack of education has an adverse impact on the information on drug abuse and hinders obtaining a source of income that collectively leads to engaging in sex work as a source of income (“5 reasons”, n.d.). The individuals living in the poverty-stricken regions in South Florida with HIV infection have similar priorities since their daily concerns lie in finding the source of income, food, and a shelter. Derrer (2014) acknowledges that this may result in the exchange of sex for drugs and a source of income (benefits) that increase the risk of HIV infection. According to the Center for American Progress (2016), 3,211,615 of 19,470,210 individuals in South Florida live in poverty. Of the 3.2 million, 26.9% are African Americans (Center for American Progress, 2016). This percentage shows that blacks are highly susceptible to acquiring HIV.
Racism is at the merge in the United States, with South Florida being not an exception (“5 reasons”, n.d.). African Americans are said to be equal on paper and in constitutional acknowledgment in papers, but that does not coincide with everyday life. Even the changing laws have not worked to relieve the oppression of the black people (“5 reasons”, n.d.). HIV affects this part of population irrespective of their place in society, which leads to the inadequate access to medication and other tools for the treatment and prevention of the disease. According to Derrer (2014), stigma also prevents individuals from discussing their status. It also influences how one may disclose the HIV condition to his wife/husband or other sexual partners. In addition, stigma silences gay men who object revealing their sexual orientation to their female sexual partners in South Florida (Levi-Minzi, & Surratt, 2014). Stigma causes own self-judgments and feelings of shame that arise from the blame of being infected. With this fear, individuals keep the secret to themselves, which puts the unexposed individuals at risk of contracting HIV.
HIV is commonly observed among African Americans due to their small population in South Florida. Thus, Derrer (2014) states that interracial dating continues to increase in the United States. Karazin (2014) maintains that interracial marriages in South Florida grow, with the relationship between blacks and whites being at 51%. While they also have relationships with fellow blacks, they have a small population size; it means that once one is exposed to HIV, it spreads quicker with a negative impact that grows faster and greater (“5 reasons”, n.d.). It means that black partners are likely to contact with a HIV-positive person who dates in the African American race as discussed by the CDC concerning the LGBT communities (“5 reasons”, n.d.). The decreased sexual network keeps HIV within the black population, resulting to increased exposures.
The male to female ratio in African American community is at extreme variation, with the gender disparities getting big. According to Newsome and Airhihenbuwa (2013), studies suggest that African American women engage in unprotected sex and possibly have unprotected sex with their white counterparts. Further, Newsome and Airhihenbuwa (2013) maintain that African Americans are likely to have sex partners with higher HIV risks. The primary reason highlighted as a cause of the risk behavior in the black women is the shortage of the eligible black American men available for heterosexual relationships. For this reason, black women may settle for the less desirable partners who have infidelity issues or who are prone to engaging in unprotected sex. Competition for the working men by the black women also places women at vulnerable positions. Newsome and Airhihenbuwa (2013) state that the imbalance promotes concurrent partnerships that place African American women susceptible to infection, thereby becoming a reservoir for HIV.
According to Derrer (2014), a majority of African Americans are reported for having sexually transmitted diseases. These diseases included gonorrhea, syphilis, Chlamydia among others. The Florida Health Government states that the rise in HIV/AIDS grows stealthily due to the increase in sexually transmitted diseases that places it at the fourth in STD diseases in the United States; for Instance, syphilis is ranked high in South Florida, (CDC, 2015). According to Derrer (2014), having these diseases increases the chances of contracting HIV. Unprotected sex among other unsafe practices places African Americans at continued risk for the HIV infection and co-infections.
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HIV/AIDS is a disease with a high prevalence rate among African Americans in the United States. Statistics indicate that South Florida is among the states, in which HIV is on the rise due to various factors. For instance, poverty in South Florida is high. Approximately 3.2 million individuals are poor, not knowing where to get the next meal, income, and shelter. The lack of finances predisposes blacks to sexual behaviors in exchange for monetary benefits, thereby increasing the rate of exposure to various diseases. More to say, it influences education and health-seeking behavior. Stigma and racism influence the opening up to sexual partners, sharing one’s HIV status, and seeking health care in medical facilities. When looked down at, the HIV status becomes a secret to them that can lead to sexual exposures. Gender imbalances ratios within the black community result in men-women competition and sexual networks that aids in the spread of HIV among African Americans in South Florida. In addition, sexually transmitted diseases increase susceptibility to HIV. Thus, this paper has addressed the factors affecting the African American population that predisposes them to HIV infection.
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