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AIDS Epidemic, Numbers Rise for Diverse Populations

Community members gathered at the Monroe County Public Library on December 1, 2010 World Aids Day to discuss the effects of HIV/Aids in underrepresented populations.

Members of the national organization, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., hosted a discussion on issues plaguing diverse populations, among those HIV/AIDS. Currently, 33 million people live with HIV. According to the CDC 77% are African-American women. Diverse populations are now moving to the majority in the epidemic.

Dr. Lamara Warren, President of the Bloomington Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., said that it’s important to sustain open dialogue about topics pertinent in the black community that not only affect residents in Indiana, but across the nation.

“It provided a platform for individuals to feel comfortable to have authentic dialogue, one of those ‘each one teach one’ moments,” said Warren. Despite what women of color face, the importance of having community and support is at the top.

“Women of color in society shouldn’t have to face these types of issues alone, whether knowingly or unknowingly these matters impact those around us and it ultimately impacts society,” said Warren.

Dr. Marlon Bailey, Assistant Professor of Gender Studies and African-American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University, studies gender sexuality and HIV/AIDS research.

“We shouldn’t overemphasize same sex sexuality at the exclusion of heterosexuality and the risk factors involved among heterosexual black women and men,” said Bailey.

Bailey also notes that African-Americans only comprise 13% of the population, but nearly half of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. He says conversations about prevention are vital.

“Our strategies need to be culturally appropriate and sex positive, not sex negative there are ways you can be sex positive and still be risk reductive,” said Bailey.

Participant Levon Williams said he feels change has occurred, but the statistics show more needs to be done.

“Compared to years past I think there has been positive change over the years with people’s awareness about these things, but we still have a long way to go,” said Williams.

Bailey surmised that education to dispel mythologies and building community prevention will help reduce the numbers.

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