As insurance companies have started to insure HIV-positive people while most of the infected Americans can’t afford treatment, it becomes more and more evident that HIV is a class and race issue.
The life span of HIV-positive white and rich men is almost the same as the national average those are just a small part of the population living with HIV/AIDS. There are almost 1.2 million infected people of which 66 percent are not in treatment.
Out of the about 45,000 people infected with HIV in the U.S. every year, almost a half are Black people most of which are gay or bisexual men.
CDC reports show that Blacks and Latinos are more likely to drop their treatment than whites. Besides that, Latino men are twice and Black men are seven times more likely to die from complications related to their HIV than white men are.
Anthony Hayes from Gay Men Health Crisis says that it is a great disparity in treating HIV/AIDS in white affluent men and treating it in vulnerable groups. While most of the white men infected have access to basic necessities, they have jobs and homes and access to health care, some of the most vulnerable non-whites infected with HIV/AIDS might be homeless having no chance to access basic care.
According to advocates it is not enough to provide free treatment in this context. People will always put their basic survival needs like getting food and a place to sleep abode the need of getting treatment for their disease, especially for those who are unaware of its presence.
Loren Jones, 63, was homeless when she found out she is infected with HIV. Giving the fact that she was asymptomatic for many years, HIV was at the bottom of her priorities list.
Modern treatments of HIV/AIDS require continuous care and have many steps, from testing and diagnosing to taking a huge amount of pills, each of them aiming to control different factors, of which the last one is keeping the presence of the virus in the blood at a minimum level.
Researchers say that people fall out of treatment at every stage and minorities are most of them. Staying in treatment would not only benefit the infected person but keeping the viral loads to the lowest levels possible makes it less likely to infect others.
According to Dr. Edward Mactinger from the Women’s HIV program in San Francisco, even if his clinic managed to supress the virus for about 80 percent of their patients the treatment faces many challenges as some of the patients have to face other problems such as addiction, domestic abuse, poverty and mental illnesses. The more vulnerable a person is, the most likely it is that they will drop the treatment.
HIV is a class and race issue and it should be discussed as an intersectional problem.
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