Post Number: 4
|Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 11:52 am: |
Don't know if this was posted before, but slowly and slowly William Coopers Behold a Pale Horse is starting to take light. They are doing everything they can to try and make sure blacks are so fearful to have sex, that the race will decline. Now grant it, AIDS is a terrible thing, but if we all stop having sex and use condoms etc, how will the black race continue? Conpsiracy
Health officials have worried for years about the high rate of HIV among African Americans. Now the federal Centers for Disease Control is examining how one group, known as men on the "down low," could be spreading the disease among black women. Men on the down low have sex with other men while keeping a heterosexual public identity. Recent books and articles about black men on the DL, as it is also called, have raised concerns that they pass HIV to unsuspecting wives and girlfriends. But because the down low is defined by secrecy, almost nothing is known about the number of men of any race who are on the down low, how many have HIV or AIDS, or their sexual activity.
At a time when black women are being diagnosed with HIV at a rate 20 times that of white women, five CDC studies will be among the first to try to learn how many white, black, Asian and Latino men fit the down-low profile; identify how, if at all, being on the down low differs from being "in the closet," and determine whether down-low men have a role in infecting women with HIV. Most black women with HIV say they were infected through heterosexual contact, but it isn't known how their male partners were infected -- by sex with other men, or by using contaminated needles to inject drugs."We need to take a step back when we look at the down-low phenomenon," said Gregg Millett, a behavioral scientist with the CDC division on HIV/AIDS. "There's very little that is known." The definition of down low depends on who does the defining. The term comes from the world of hip-hop and R&B music, where it means an illicit relationship. As adapted by a subculture of black men, being on the down low describes men who have sex with other men but appear straight, have relationships with women, and don't acknowledge being gay or even bisexual. Many down low men find it difficult to see themselves as gay because of the stigma attached to homosexuality in the black community, said Phil Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles. Being gay risks rejection by family and friends. They don't identify with gay culture, which they see as white and effeminate. And when they do venture into gay communities like San Francisco's, which are predominantly white, they feel unwelcome, according to several studies of gay men of color. Because these men have so much at stake in keeping their sexual activity secret, it is unknown how many there are and it is difficult to trace the sexual history of their female partners. The longer these men lead double lives, health officials say, the higher the risk for their partners. Millett said some of the CDC studies will conduct random sampling of men to find those who identify themselves as being down low and ask them what the term means to them and whether they have sex just with men or also with women. In 2001, the CDC issued a report citing rising rates of HIV and AIDS among gay black and Latino men. The agency then found signs the disease was spreading more broadly among male and female blacks:
-- The leading cause of HIV infection among African
American women in 2002 was heterosexual contact,
followed by injection drug use, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers want to know how the partners of theinfected heterosexual women contracted the disease. The nature of down-low partners means girlfriends and wives may not know about them until they test positive for HIV. Robert Scott, whose medical practice in Oakland includes about 450 African American men and women who are HIV-positive, said a number of his cases are women who were unaware their boyfriends or husbands were having sex with men. "They are living with them, have children with them, but have no idea," Scott said. One woman, he said, was married to a man for 17 years, including 10 years when he was in prison. After his release, she became HIV positive. The man is also positive but has refused to submit himself for care, Scott said. He has since gotten a new girlfriend, who is pregnant, and the doctor is not sure if she knows the man's status.
Scott said drug addiction is fueling the spread of the virus, with both men and women engaging in risky behaviors because of their addictions. "What I see in my practice is that it is largely associated with individuals who have substance problems," he said. "I see a great number of patients who are into crack cocaine. It is a way of life." Many have wives, or are living with women, and see themselves as being straight. But they will do anything to get the next rock. Scott calls it "survival sex." For other down-low men, from Financial District workers to truck drivers, it's a lifestyle that can be pursued over the Internet via chat rooms and Web postings and on the streets of San Francisco at certain night spots in the Tenderloin. Bay Area communities from San Francisco to Solano County are trying to expand HIV and AIDS services and outreach to black women and to men on the down low. In 1998, the HIV infection rate among African Americans prompted Alameda County to declare a state of emergency and begin a series of public education programs targeting blacks. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, also spearheaded passage of the Minority AIDS Initiative, which has awarded more than $406 million in federal funds to major metropolitan areas. In 2003, a study by the Solano County Health and Social Service Department found that the county ranked seventh in per capita incidence of AIDS among the state's 58 counties. Although African Americans make up only 15 percent of the county's population, they comprise 32 percent of reported cases of AIDS. Solano County ranges from farming towns to urban and suburban communities. Unlike in much of San Francisco, homosexuality can still carry a strong stigma in these areas, said Jessika Jackson, director of Community Services and Education at Planned Parenthood Shasta-Diablo in Vallejo. "Especially in this community, where we're far away from San Francisco and Oakland, there's a feeling of not having a lot of support," said Victoria Haight, a caseworker at Planned Parenthood's Vallejo center. Of the 22 HIV-positive clients at the Vallejo center, 20 are women, 15 of them black, she said. All 15 black women say they contracted the virus through heterosexual sex.
The fear of being discovered is so strong that Planned Parenthood had to suspend a support group for women who were infected with HIV by their husbands or boyfriends because no one would come to the meetings. "It's hard to get people to come because they'reafraid they're going to be seen by someone," Jackson said. Arnold Perkins, director of Alameda County's PublicHealth Office, chides many black churches for notaddressing the AIDS issue from their pulpits. He said religious leaders in the black community must move beyond their discomfort with homosexuality.
In the '80s, Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco was one of the first religious institutions
in the country to take an active role in the fight against AIDS. But the Rev. Cecil Williams, CEO and
minister of Glide's national and international ministries, said he was rebuffed when he tried to get
black churches to support programs to combat the spread of HIV. "To our dismay, what we came upon was church after church after church in the black community ... turned its back on the African community and said it's something we don't want to deal with," Williams said.
"The church had been told that it's a sin and anybody who had AIDS, God was punishing them," he said. As the disease has continued to spread, however, more churches are overcoming their reservations, he said. Some people who work with AIDS programs caution that too much blame is being placed on down-low men for spreading the disease among blacks. At the AIDS Project of the East Bay, which helps poor people who are at risk of contracting HIV, the
director, Hazel Wesson, said down-low men and their female partners are about 30 percent of her clientele.But, she said, "I think that there have always been men who were having relationships with men and women and are clandestine about it. The down low isn't new; HIV is new."
"There's the assumption that these men are somehow the bridge between the gay community and the heterosexual community," said Andre Robinson of the Black Coalition on AIDS, a San Francisco outreach program. "The research just doesn't support that. They've always been there. If these men were the bridge, then why didn't this happen in the '80s?" He said any discussion must also focus on the issue of women getting the virus from intravenous drug use. "There's really a dearth of research around black people and HIV," he said. "One of the reasons is that the researchers don't look like us."
Phil Wilson of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles agrees that tracking men on the down low is not a magic bullet for stopping the spread of AIDS among black women. But he said the debate over down-low men "has sparked a new dialog among black women and among the black community in general," as black organizations are paying more attention to AIDS.