Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, Blacks are still suffering disproportionately from the disease. At 13 percent of the national population, we represent more than our share of the newly infected—44 percent—and of those living with the virus in the United States. In recent years, however, the facts have started to shift on the AIDS front. Data reported in 2014 show declines in new infections among key groups, including Black women. These statistics, in addition to effective prevention tools, may signal a long overdue change. “It’s critically important for Black folks to understand that we all need to be utilizing health care because we can actually access these new tools that can turn the epidemic around in our community,” states Phil Wilson, president and chief executive officer of The Black AIDS Institute. EBONY reviews 10 key developments in the battle against the once-deadly virus.
1 A Breakthrough Case Earlier this year, medical experts learned some disheartening information: A baby in Mississippi who had appeared to be free of the virus tested positive again. Despite the setback, the diagnosis is still cause for immense hope. “The case itself remains extremely interesting in terms of what it can tell us about how to cure HIV,” notes Rowena Johnston, Ph.D., vice president and director of research at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. “It gets us a lot closer than any other has.” Johnston explains that the virus usually rebounds within three weeks of a patient being off antiretroviral therapy, which is the standard drug treatment for HIV/AIDS. The Mississippi infant’s virus, however, remained suppressed for 27 months without treatment. “If you compare 27 months to 20 days, you can see that this is an enormous stride,” she says. “From a scientist’s perspective, this is absolutely revolutionary.” Today, the child is back in treatment so far with undetectable viral levels.
Read more in the December 2014 issue of EBONY Magazine.