There is a disease in us that powerfully chains our minds, devastates our spirits, and controls our decisions. It lives in and grows in us like weeds in a beautiful garden. We, the young people of the Diaspora, have been diagnosed with an illness called “stigma.” Youth of African descent strikingly have become critically unaware of the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS on our community.
Without a doubt, African-American youth in the United States are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. We are the 59 percent affected — 59.5 percent of all newly infected youth were African American in 2010.We are plagued with the separation of our people with this misconception that solely LGBTQ, specifically bisexual/gay male persons of color are responsible for this epidemic. However, this is not the case at all.
Yet, this alone has placed heterosexual blacks on the backburner of not being educated on the issue and leaves room for an increase in infection rates. It is a must that we remember Umoja, which means unity. It is imperative that we lean not on our own understanding and open up the floor to conversations we tend to avoid and suffocate ignorance in its entirety. We all are humans and HIV affects everyone worldwide, especially African Americans of all backgrounds and sexual preferences
We must unify ourselves in education and let us take our sisters and brothers by the hand and go out and get tested. We need to have conversations and spread the word, not the virus. African Americans represented 44 percent of all new HIV infections in 2010, despite representing only 12 percent of the overall U.S. population, according to the CDC. We are all responsible to decrease that number. As part of that statistic, we can be motivated to fight the stigma of HIV/AIDS by recognizing the facts.
National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which was held earlier this month, reminds us that we cannot allow this virus to continue to plague the community. As we black youth observe Youth Pride this weekend in D.C., we must love ourselves and our people by carrying the importance of black love.
So, I came up with this acronym: E.N.D., which stands for Educate, Notify and Donate. First, educate. It is imperative that we learn more about HIV/AIDS and how we can remain in solidarity to know our status and encouraging other people of color to do the same. Secondly, we have to notify one another of the statistics and remember that we are all at risk of contracting this virus. Lastly, donate your time, mind, and efforts to advancing awareness. Monetarily invest in resources that support all of our people affected by the virus as well as those who aren’t.
National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was the beginning and definitely not the end of our struggle to enhance our mindsets and promote love for one another by diminishing the stigma and taking steps to lower the statistics.
Peace and love my sisters and brothers and remember E.N.D: Educate, Notify, and Donate.