February 7 is national black HIV/AIDS awareness day.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans account for half of the more than 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, nearly half of all new HIV infections in the United States and half of all those who have died with AIDS in this country. Their website goes on to state that within the African-American communities HIV is far-reaching. It affects men, women, gay, straight, young and old. Young African-American men, particularly gay and bisexual youth, are by far the most severely affected population and account for more new infections than any other group in the nation. Their website states that while recent data indicate that new HIV infections among African-American women are declining for the first time in over a decade, this group accounts for 13 percent of all new infections and are far more affected by this disease than women of any other race or ethnicity.
AIDS, according to the Mayo Clinic's website, is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This virus interferes with the body's ability to fight organisms that cause disease.
There are several ways a person can become infected with the HIV virus:
- During sexual contact. Infection may occur during vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone whose blood, semen or vaginal secretions enters the body. The virus can enter the body through mouth sores or small tears that sometimes develop in the rectum or vagina during sexual activity.
- During blood transfusions.
- While sharing needles. Needles and syringes may be infected with contaminated blood.
- From infected mother to child during pregnancy, delivery or breast-feeding.
Their website goes on to state that one of the risk factors of HIV is being an uncircumcised male. Studies show that heterosexual males that are not circumcised are at increased risk for transmission of HIV.
There are ways to help prevent the spread of HIV:
- Use a new condom every time there is sexual contact.
- Tell your sexual partner if you have HIV
- Use a clean needle
- Get medical care right away if pregnant
- Consider male circumcision
There are female condoms but there are risks:
- It may break
- It may slip out of the vagina
- The penis may slip between the vagina and the outside of the condom
- The outer ring of the condom may get pushed into the vagina during sex
- It may cause discomfort during insertion, a burning sensation, itching or a rash
There is no cure for AIDS. The Center for disease Control and Prevention recommends being tested at least once a year if things are done that can transmit the HIV infection. They also recommend talking to a healthcare provider if things are never done that might help transmit the virus to decide how often tests should be done.