Most people think of the AIDS epidemic as something that happens only in Africa, and they do not realize how many people in this country must struggle with the disease. The problem with AIDS in this country is not confined to one gender, age group, sexual preference, or race, but urban, black communities do have a much larger number of AIDS cases than other populations. The purpose of this paper is to discuss this issue and interlock three specific issues that deal with this epidemic. There are three specific points that are hypothesized in this paper:
The first hypothesis is that this problem affects families, economies, and communities that are largely urban and black, in that the effects of the AIDS virus and deaths from it devastate much of what is needed to keep these areas alive.
The second hypothesis is that the government is ignoring much of what causes the problem, and by ignoring it there are fewer individuals who are helping with the problem, simply due to a lack of awareness.
The third hypothesis is that teachers and other educators can do more to help these individuals in the way of curricula and education programs if they are allowed to do so and have an awareness of the problem
All three of these issues will be explored to help determine the validity or invalidity of the hypotheses. These issues will be examined in the literature review and discussed in the data analysis. This will be done in order to help show the seriousness of the issue and the difficult points that must be studied. In this way, others will be able to see the effects that AIDS is having on these families and communities, and what can be done to help alleviate some of the problems that are important but have not yet been dealt with thoroughly.
Chapter Two will review the literature that deals with the AIDS epidemic in all three areas - the problems that communities face, the lack of government intervention, and the help that could be provided by educators. Reviewing just one of these areas would not provide enough information for a complete understanding of the problem and what could be done about it, or what is not being done about it. There is a great deal of available literature about the topic and it would prove unwise to ignore one or more parts of the true issue.
Chapter Three will concern itself with the methodology that will be used to analyze the data, since an understanding of how the data is looked at and studied will help make sense of the information collected. The data that comes from the literature review and from information gleaned from experts in the field will largely be used to study the issue. This type of methodology will help to indicate the issues that are found in the literature of others, as well as the opinions of those that are experts in studying the issue of AIDS in urban, black communities and how it is becoming near epidemic proportions.
Chapter Four will then analyze the data that was collected through a review of the literature. The literature review may provide a great deal of competent and interesting information, but without an analysis of this, there would not be a point to the collection of it. The analysis will provide an understanding of the information received and will also look at whether the hypotheses presented earlier were valid or invalid based on the literature reviewed and the information from experts.
The fifth and final chapter will present conclusions about the issue at hand, as well as what has been discovered about the topic and what the researcher has learned about the issue and the hypotheses that were presented. By discussing what was learned by the researcher, conclusions can more easily be drawn and information that would not necessarily have come to light can be shown. This is due to the fact that all researchers have biases about a particular issue and therefore they often do not take into account everything that could be learned or understood about a particular issue. These biases can come to light in learning more about something, and it is important that the researcher provide this information in the study for the benefit of those that might utilize that study in their work in the future.
It is unfortunate for black individuals, but AIDS is increasingly becoming a disease that is found to be much more common in blacks. These individuals currently make up 50% of all of the new infections of AIDS being discovered in this country (Whitaker, 2001). It is also unfortunate that black individuals in this country have not yet completely come to grips with this issue or fully understood it. It is a health-care crisis and because most individuals are ashamed and secretive about their problems with AIDS, or about a family member with AIDS, entire communities are being jeopardized because of the AIDS epidemic that is taking place in them. There is so much misinformation available about AIDS and black individuals are often uncertain about everything that they need to know and need to do not only to protect themselves but to live the longest life possible if they do contract the virus (Whitaker, 2001).
There has been a great deal learned about how to treat AIDS, and even more learned about its detection. There is so much information available about prevention and protection, that it would seem that black individuals would be seeing reduced rates of the virus. However, black individuals are the one group that is seeing a strong rise in AIDS, and this is changing what the public originally assumed to be the typical AIDS victim (Whitaker, 2001). It was originally assumed that homosexual white men were the ones who dealt with the AIDS virus. Everyone else appeared to be relatively safe from it and it was touted as a disease belonging only to homosexual white men and not to other groups. It has been over 20 years since the AIDS issue was first detected, and the individuals that are contracting AIDS and the typical AIDS victim has changed dramatically (Whitaker, 2001).
AIDS first began to sweep to the nation in the early to middle 1980s. There were 200,000 new infections reported each year and 60% of these belonged to white individuals who were primarily male (Whitaker, 2001). Because of the concern among homosexual men and this disease, many of those in the homosexual community promoted early detection and the use of condoms so that the disease would not spread. Many of their efforts have been very successful and the rate of infection in homosexual white men has gone down sharply (Whitaker, 2001).
HIV infections in general have gone down, and individuals are now becoming infected with the AIDS virus at the rate of about 40,000 people per year (Whitaker, 2001). This would seem to be a great leap forward for many individuals because it is much better than the 200,000 individuals who were being infected in the 1980s each year. However, there is a high concentration of these new infections in the urban black communities. Out of the 40,000 infections that occur each year, over 50% of these are in black individuals and therefore AIDS is now being touted not as a homosexual white man's disease, but as a black disease (Whitaker, 2001).
Statistics about this are somewhat important. In 1998, AIDS was found to be the leading cause of death in black individuals who were between the ages of 25 and 44 years old (Whitaker, 2001). Out of cases of AIDS reported among women, 64% belonged to black women (Whitaker, 2001). Pediatric AIDS is also a concern for many of these individuals, and two-thirds of all of these reported cases belonged to black children who were under the age of 13 (Whitaker, 2001). When one looks at the larger picture and not just at this country, it is easily seemed that AIDS is truly becoming a black disease. Two-thirds of the infections of the AIDS virus in this world are on the continent of Africa, which is primarily black. Last year, 17 million people in Africa died of this disease and it is becoming increasingly easy to see how many individuals believe that this is primarily a black disease at this point (Whitaker, 2001).
It has been said that this epidemic is taking advantage of individuals in this country that are the most vulnerable. Some of this has to do with information that these individuals should have access to but do not, but there are also fewer psychological and socioeconomic resources for these particular individuals (Whitaker, 2001). These are needed not only to combat the disease but also to change the types of behaviors that these individuals engage in that lead to AIDS infection.