Essay: HIV / AIDS on American

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[. . .] What they found in that research was that there has been a dramatic decline in coverage of the HIV / AIDS epidemic as well as a "…shift in portrayal of risk in the U.S." (Stevens, et al., 2013). There was a shift in focus over those fifteen years of newspaper coverage, Stevens explains, and the newer focus was on the HIV / AIDS problems internationally, not in the U.S. (Stevens, 352).

Hence, because there was more attention paid to the HIV / AIDS epidemic overseas, the impact on Americans was given reduced visibility; and the "racial disparity" that was indeed found in that newspaper coverage failed to provide "context" -- and the authors find that fact an uncomfortable one given the seriousness of the illness for African-Americans. To wit, more than thirty years after AIDS became a feared disease, African-Americans account for half of the new cases reported in the United States; this is pertinent because African-Americans only represent 12.3% of the population in the United States (Stevens, 353).

The HIV infection rates are "particularly high for African-American women, youth, and men who have sex with men," Stevens continues; and given this statistical reality, Stevens (and "scholars") blame the media for being "silent" on the impact HIV / AIDS has had on African-Americans. A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation (referenced by Stevens on page 353) shows that "…73% of African-Americans reported wanting to know more about HIV transmission." As to how many newspapers covered the HIV / AIDS infections in minorities, only 3% of all stories on HIV / AIDS covered issues related to minorities and only 5% of the HIV / AIDS coverage in The New York Times between 1981 through 1993 specifically mentioned African-Americans (Stevens, 353).

Basic coverage of HIV / AIDS in the U.S. "peaked in June 1993," when there was an average of 840 stories in those 24 newspapers per month, Stevens explains (358). During the period subsequent to 1993 the HIV / AIDS issues "…often highlighted infection through non-risky behaviour" (like mother-to-child transmissions or from blood transfusions); also, those newspapers tended to frame the stories as "human interest pieces" that zeroed in on people that had HIV / AIDS and how they were coping (Stevens, 358). It seemed that in the 1990s HIV / AIDS was an "African problem" -- particular in Uganda, because Uganda went through a "dramatic decline in its AIDS case rates" -- not an American problem (Stevens, 360).

HIV and AIDS among American Indians and Alaska Natives

In a peer-reviewed article (Ethnicity and Health) the authors report that American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) only represent 1% of AIDS cases in the U.S. (McNaghten, et al., 2005). However AI/AN are reported to have shown "high rates of Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis from 1996 through 2000" (McNaghten, 57). Among all females in the U.S., AI/AN females had "…the second highest rates of Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis" that was reported in the above-mentioned time frame (McNaghten, 57). What is the impact of HIV / AIDS on the AI/AN population? McNaghten explains that Caucasians represented 73.7% of all people in the U.S. And Caucasians represented 37.8% of all people living with AIDS; these number dwarf the percentage of AI/AN in the U.S. (0.7%) and the percentages of AI/AN living with AIDS, which is just 0.3% (61).

Persons 50 years and older -- HIV / AIDS

The Administration on Aging reports that about 31% of people living with HIV are "over the age of 50." In fact the AOA claims that 17% of "…all new HIV / AIDS cases occur among people" who are fifty years of age and older (AOA). The National Institute on Aging (NIA) (primary source) claims that "Almost one-fourth of all people with HIV / AIDS" in the U.S. are fifty years of age or older, and the NIA explains that older Americans "know less about HIV / AIDS than younger people do" (NIA). Reasons why older people know less about HIV / AIDS include: a) they do not come into contact with information about condoms, needle-sharing, or getting tested as often as younger people do; b) their healthcare workers and educators "…often do not talk with middle-aged and older people" about HIV / AIDS; c) older people are far less likely to discuss their personal sexual behaviors with doctors; and d) in turn, doctors tend not to ask older people about their drug use, their sexual activities or any "risky behaviors" they may engage in (NIA).

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention urges older people to "abstain from sex (oral, anal, or vaginal sex) until you are in a relationship with only one person…and each of you knows the other's HIV status" (CDC). If an older person believes that he or she has been exposed to an STD (like gonorrhea, syphilis, or Chlamydia trachomatis), "get treatment" because these STDs can "increase your risk of getting HIV (CDC). Also, the CDC explains to older people that having sex while high on drugs or alcohol is risky because "…being high can make you more likely to take risks"; moreover, there are "ABCs" for older people, and they stand for: A (abstinence); B (Be faithful); and C (condoms) (CDC).

Drug use statistics

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that in 2010, about 22.6 million Americans (twelve years old and older) were "…current illicit drug users," which means they had used an illicit drug within a month of the time of the survey (SAMHSA, 2012). The 22.6 million is just under 9% of the U.S. population, and the "illicit drugs" referenced include: "marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-type psychotherapeutics used nonmedically" (SAMHSA).

The most common of the illicit drugs mentioned by SAMHSA is marijuana (there were an estimated 17.4 million users in the month the study was done); in the three years between 2007 and 2010, marijuana usage increased from 5.8% of the population to 6.9%, which reflects actual numbers from 14.4 million to 17.4 million Americans 12 or older (SAMHSA). As for cocaine users in the U.S., only 0.6% of the U.S. population used cocaine on a regular basis (1.5 million); that is a decrease in usage from 2006 (when 1.0% of the population used regularly) (SAMHSA).

As for hallucinogens, 1.2 million Americans were regular users which included 695,000 who had used Ecstasy on a regular basis; and concerning prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs, 7 million Americans were regular users (for nonmedical purposes), which is 2.7% of the American population (SAMHSA). When it comes to older people (50 to 59), SAMHSA reports that illicit drug use "…increased from 2.7% in 2002 to 5.8% in 2010"; this takes into account "baby boomers" who perhaps started using drugs (notably marijuana) at a young age and have continued through their middle age and senior years.

In his book U.S. Drug Policy, journalist Renard Teipelke claims that for the American population aged 12 and older the use of "illicit drugs has stayed the same for the years 2002 to 2008," which means that about 8% of Americans are involved with illicit drugs, which is similar to the data from SAMHSA (Teipelke, 2010, p. 4). The main group of illicit drug users, Teipelke explains, are those between the ages of 16 to 29; as to university and college students who graduated, 51.8% had tried illicit drugs at some time, but for those individuals who only completed high school, just 37.7% had experimented with illicit drugs (p. 4). Teipelke writes that he obtained his data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Pornography and HIV

An article in the Los Angeles Times (August 25, 2013) that a 28-year-old actress in the Pornography industry (her screen name is Cameron Bay) has tested positive for HIV (Sewell, 2013, p. A29). Hence, the adult film industry is calling for "…a nationwide moratorium" on producing any additional films until further research and results can be obtained, Sewell writes. Did Bay get HIV on a movie set? There is no evidence of that, but it puts more pressure on the industry to observe the measure passed by Los Angeles County voters in 2012 calling for pornography actors to use condoms, Sewell continued.

The actress said, "As difficult as this news is for me, I am hopeful that no other performers have been affected. I plan on doing everything possible to assist the medical professionals and my fellow performers," she continued. But her "long-term plan" is to take care of her own health, she added (Sewell, A29).

Is the CIA guilty of a massive conspiracy and cover-up?

An article in Time (2008) points out that ever since the CDC first announced that the HIV / AIDS, there have been rumors that the CIA instigated this epidemic in order to "…wipe out homosexuals and African-Americans (Time). High-profile political leaders and others have helped to perpetuate this rumor; among those is South African President Thabo Mbeki, who insisted that the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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