HIV/AIDS statistics troubling for New Yorkers, says Bill Thompson
GLENN TOWNES Special to the AmNews | 6/14/2013, 12:31 p.m.
It's no secret that the African-American and Latino communities have been hit the hardest by the HIV/AIDS epidemic--a fact reiterated for decades by the staggering loss of life across the globe--but former City Comptroller and current mayoral candidate Bill Thompson said a new analysis of the pandemic is especially troubling for New Yorkers.
In an interview last week with the AmNews, Thompson highlighted some sobering statistics, including the fact that about 78 percent of newly diagnosed cases were among African-Americans and Hispanics--46 and 32 percent, respectively. The study was compiled and reviewed from statistics from the city health department between 2007 and 2011.
"This needs to serve as a wake-up call for the Black and Hispanic communities of New York," he said. "We need to make sure they have the tools to make safe decisions regarding their sexual and emotional health." Thompson noted that stigmatization, lack of knowledge and fear still play prominent roles among various communities when it comes to testing for HIV/AIDS testing. A lot of people are simply too afraid to be tested for the virus, fearing that they may find out they are infected.
"I've had patients that once they found out they were HIV-positive, they couldn't deal with it and let the knowledge that they had HIV kill them instead of the virus itself," said James, a 42-year-old health care worker in Newark,N.J. "Not everyone is able to handle the task of taking drug cocktails every day and living with the knowledge that you will have this potentially deadly virus inside of you forever."
However, Thompson dismissed the notion and said that for the most part, it is a provincial way of thinking. He added, "People with HIV are living longer than ever before. This starts by being tested and following a solid drug treatment plan."
Thompson proposed additional funding from the state and Congress for HIV and STD testing, prevention and care assistance. Additionally, implementing an age-appropriate sex education class in New York City schools is an effective way to present accurate information to the most vulnerable groups--African-American and Hispanic students.
Lastly, among some of the other upbeat findings in the report, is that there was an overall decrease in the number of new infections citywide by about 19 percent. Additionally, women are the overall largest contributors to the decrease in new infections across the city.
When asked if a vaccine for HIV/AIDS will occur in the next 25 years, Thompson said, "Yes! Scientists are making advancements every day in the fight against HIV, and there is no doubt that we will see a cure in our lifetime."