HIV leading killer among young Black men

Black on Black violence is not the leading cause of death for most black males. Diseases are now becoming the leading factor of deaths among young black males between the ages of 14-25-years old said health experts.

This epidemic has severely effected the African-American community. “The transmitted disease, human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome are the most common diseases found in the black community and it has caused some serious health problems,” said Dr. Shankar A. Shetty, director of student health services.

The immune system’s function is to kill off and protect the body from harmful viruses, germs and diseases. “People do not die from AIDS itself, but they do die from the associated viruses and diseases that the immune system cannot kill off,” said Shetty.

HIV can not be contracted by touch. This virus is transferred from person to person through the blood stream. “Generally, using unsterilized needles, abusing drugs and having casual sex will increase the risk of becoming HIV positive,” said Shetty.

Florida’s health statistics indicate that one in every 40 African-Americans has tested positive for HIV. The risk of young black males contracting the disease is high. Because of these statistics, many students are paranoid about this issue. HIV has become a major concern for FAMU’s students.

“The risk of contracting the HIV virus should make people think twice about having sex and open relationships so casually,” said Christian Collins, 20, a third-year health care management student from Philadelphia.

The Web site said HIV impairs and kills cells, which destroys the body’s ability to fight common infections and colds. As many as 900,000 Americans are infected with this disease. “There is currently no cure and no vaccine to prevent people from contracting the disease,” said Shetty.

FAMU’s health clinic offers free condoms and schedules one-a-day health care sessions at the clinic to help the students and the communities practice certain prevention methods. “I don’t know why the rate is so high among African-Americans, but people need to be aware of certain prevention methods; so that is why the clinic tries to play an active role in assisting students and the community from contracting HIV,” said Shetty.

“People are not scared of dying from HIV and AIDS,” said Shetty.

He explained that HIV and AIDS victims are not dying as quickly as in the past years.

“With the medical breakthroughs, positive HIV and AIDS victims are living up to 10-15 years longer,” he said. “But it is still a deadly disease.”

Now that life expectancy is longer than in past years, people are becoming unconcerned with the health effects and severity behind this disease. “It has no cure or vaccine, so why are HIV and AIDS victims starting to accept this illness as just a chronic disease. Prevention is the key not acceptance,” he said.

Even though there have been medical breakthroughs for curing certain disease, the only real cure is prevention, he said. “The steps to prevention starts with your awareness of your casual acts and lifestyles, and the current health risks,” said Shetty.