Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer Camp Seeks to Address Young Black Women at Risk of HIV Infection

For 21 Virginia girls, aged 13 -21, summer camp does not involve the traditional activities of swimming, fishing, and roasting hot dogs and s’mores around a fire.

These girls belong to the SISTA SPEAK empowerment camp for young women at risk for unhealthy relationships. Located near Richmond, the camp offers girls hope, strategies for HIV prevention and the sense of self required to protect themselves in relationships where the balance of power favors men.

The SISTA SPEAK camp is a pilot prevention program sponsored by the first no-cost public health care clinic in Virginia, the Fan Free Clinic.  Funding for the camp came from a $10,000 grant from the local high school. The girls selected to participate were recommended by social workers. The camp’s doors close this weekend.

According to Andrew Skerritt, who penned the soon-to-be released book “Ashamed to Die: Silence, Denial, and the AIDS Epidemic in the South, ” the rise in newly HIV-infected black, gay and bisexual men puts black women at risk.

“Many women feel ‘I’m in a situation where I need to put out to get a man,’” said Skerritt. “The (lack of) availability of black men gives black men an advantage. So the power in the relationship has shifted and black women will compromise and the price of that compromise too many times is HIV.”

Black men have the highest rate of HIV infection among any group by race or sex — more than six times that of white men – and the infection rate among black women is 15 times that of white women, according to the CDC. The primary source of HIV infection for black women is sex with an infected black man.

In Virginia alone, one in five persons with HIV is a black woman, and in 2009 the HIV infection rate among blacks was nearly eight times that of whites.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Family,

Good are going to need it. First of all, nobody wants to admit that large numbers of black women are attracted to gay men to begin with.

I have gone to functions where black women were with openly gay men. And it obvious that when the evening is over they are headed to somebody's bedroom.