Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Hidden Epidemic

Slate writer, Jon Cohen, provides more follow up on Gwen Ifill's question for the vice presidential candidates regarding the devastating effect of AIDS on black women in America. He recapitulates the non-answers of both candidates and then explores reasons why HIV so disproportionately affects black women in the U.S. He ends with quotes from Ifill about her own reaction to the candidates' lack of knowledge.

As Cohen lists the possible reasons for this situation, he adds a more fulsome response from Phill Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles:

And there's one more factor to consider, says Wilson: Politicians ignore this population. "It's both a cause and a symptom of the problem that our government really is not interested in the health and well-being of black people and in particular black women," says Wilson. "How is it that Dick Cheney can tell you how many machine guns are in Baghdad, but doesn't have a clue about issues that are killing black women a stone's throw from his office?"

I have often opined that the AIDS epidemic casts a harsh light on the cracks that divide our society showing us, among other things, that HIV most affects those that our society is most willing to "throw away." Whether such neglect is willful or not, it remains a lasting condemnation that policy makers can continue to turn their backs on this situation.

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