HIV and AIDS Among African Americans

2011 diagnoses of HIV infection among adults and adolescents, by race / ethnicity

In this week’s materials we discussed the relationship between race, genetics, and health which is something that most do not completely understand. The genetic component links with race but there are other factors that tie into it, like the environment. In the lecture, it talked about how race is not considered an actual gene and was not something that was utilized in the past. Race technically has nothing to do with genes because it is based on a person’s cultural, political, and social backgrounds. Culture has to do with the way a person i brought up and raised into. Altogether, the three make up a person so they all are connected in a way. These three concepts all affect a persons health in a different way. People of the same race can share the same health problems but people with the same genes show specific information as two why those people share those health problems. Culture plays a role as well because it is the way people are brought up which have an affect on health. 

The health disparity HIV and AIDs are so prevalent among African American people more than any other race. Avert.org says, ” There are a myriad of social and economic factors that result in higher levels of sexual HIV transmission among African Americans. One predominant reason is that African Americans often only have sexual relations with others in their ethnic group. This concentrates the HIV epidemic among this community.” So since African Americans are having sexual intercourse with other African Americans, this primarily keeps the spread of HIV and AIDs within the race. Another reason is that “across the world, men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by HIV. This is also true among the African American population. Of all HIV infections in 2011 among male African Americans, 72 percent were transmitted via sex between men.” as discussed on Avert.org. So men having sex with men is causing the rate of HIV and AIDs in African Americans to be higher than others as well.

“HIV and AIDs Among African Americans.” Last modified February 6, 2014. Accessed July 11, 2014. http://www.avert.org/hiv-aids-among-african-americans.htm

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Natasha Mehta says:

    I agree with your statement about how race technically has nothing to do with genes, and that it is based on a person’s cultural, political, and social backgrounds. However, as described by the example of the Pima Indians in the lecture this week, people of the same race have historically lived in the same regions and environments, and under the same circumstances for thousands of years, which has caused them to evolve in the same way and have similar biological backgrounds. While race does not determine your genes, it does indicate that your ancestors are similar to someone of the same race, and if you have similar ancestors, you are likely to have similar genotypes. This doesn’t mean that there is a defining gene for race, but it does mean that other genes will be similar within races. Because of this reasoning, I believe racial categories are useful in determining someone’s health risks, but it is definitely not a defining factor of someone’s health. I have studied HIV/AIDS a lot and one thing I’ve learned that you didn’t mention is that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in African Americans is also due to the fact that in their culture being gay is very looked down upon, so many African American men who engage in homosexual activity will not identify as being gay, and thus don’t tell their doctors or get checked for the disease.

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