4 Deadly Diseases That Kill Blacks Disproportionately: How to Beat the Odds

HIV/AIDS

How deadly is this disease?

HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for black women aged 25-44. It is the third cause of death for black men ages 35-44, and the ninth cause of death for all African Americans.

At some point in their lifetimes, an estimated 1 in 16 black men and 1 in 32 black women will be diagnosed with HIV infection.

African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Despite representing only 14 percent of the US population, African Americans account for approximately 44 percent of all new HIV infections.

Compared with members of other races and ethnicities, African Americans account for a higher proportion of HIV infections at all stages of disease — from new infections to deaths.

What is HIV/AIDS?

AIDS stands for acquired immunity deficiency syndrome. A diagnosis of AIDS is the result of a positive HIV test and the presence of one or more of the following “AIDS defining” diseases:

  • Yeast infections (candida)
  • Cervical cancer
  • Kaposis Sarcoma
  • Tuberculosis
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Pneumonia

What causes it?

This disease is acquired from the bodily fluids of someone who carries the HIV virus.

It is transferred most often via unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sexual intercourse and can also be contracted by intravenous drug users who share needles with an HIV positive person, and from a pregnant mother to her unborn child.

What are the symptoms?

It is estimated that 20 percent of HIV-positive Americans are unaware of their infection, and exhibit no symptoms whatsoever.
Some who have contracted HIV report a history of flu-like symptoms a few days or even weeks after exposure to the virus. These symptoms appear, and then disappear on their own leaving the HIV-infected person feeling normal and symptom-free for years:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck.

How can I avoid HIV/AIDS?

A person who does not share drug needles and is not having sexual intercourse is not likely to ever contract the HIV virus.

If you are sexually active and cannot be 100 percent certain your partner is virus-free and having sex only with you, you are at risk of contracting the virus.

The best defense you have against contracting the HIV virus is never sharing a drug needle, and using a condom every time you have sexual intercourse (yes, even with a partner you “believe” is HIV-negative.) – kathleen cross

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