Ignorance is no longer an excuse

"Knowledge is power." I know we’ve all heard this phrase numerous times in our lives. But is it really true? You see, if we have knowledge about something that could be of harm to us and choose not to do anything to correct it then what good does knowing about the problem do for us. Not a d@#% thing. I watched a program entitled, Out of Control: AIDS Epidemic in Black America and it gave me the urge to relate what I discovered and learned. After all, knowledge is power. We hear about HIV/AIDS in Africa and other third world nations every time we turn on the television but we fail to hear what AIDS is doing to the people right here in the United States. Celebrities are constantly going overseas to fight the war against HIV/AIDS but we fail to see them having benefit concerts in their homeland to help their fellow Americans. My parents always told me that you have to take care of home first before you try to take care of someone else. It’s evident that we all don’t follow the same principles. The program consisted of a panel of HIV/AIDS activists, specialists, person’s who are HIV positive, persons with full blown AIDS, homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, men and women, preachers, dignitaries and a host of other people so every aspect and viewpoint could be considered. The question was asked why isn’t HIV/AIDS addressed in the Black church? A very well known preacher who has an HIV/AIDS ministry at his church stated," The Apostle Paul didn’t give us direction (instructions) of what to do with a problem such as this. There are a multitude of other issues that Black America have to recognize and overcome and HIV/AIDS is only one of them." I was very amazed with his answer. How could someone of his magnitude let those words consciously come out of his mouth? It seems to me that he’s suggesting that discussing the issue of HIV/AIDS in church is not allowed. Many of the men and women interviewed stated that it is especially hard in the Black community to discuss the issue of HIV/AIDS. Many people think that being diagnosed with the disease is a punishment for living a homosexual lifestyle. No one deserves to have HIV/AIDS, its a result of our bad decision-making or lack there of that makes us victims. The suppression of feelings such as homosexuality dates all the way back to slavery. Blacks more than any other ethnic group tend to suppress their feeling because we don’t want to be viewed as weak, or incompetent we have to always be the strong ones. This is one reason that our people are continuously dying. In 1996 the last AIDS quilt was laid down in the Washington Monument Park . Back then most of the HIV/AIDS victims were White. Ten years later more than fifty percent of persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS is Black. The Center of Disease Control reported that approximately 1.3 million persons in America are living with HIV/AIDS and more than half of them are Black (that’s approximately 650,000). Why is it that Whites and other ethnic groups noticed what HIV/AIDS was doing to their community and sought out help and began using the knowledge that they gained and began protecting themselves? The government also has a large roll in this epidemic. During the 2004 vice president debate the interviewer asked vice president Chaney and aspiring vice president Gore if chosen what would be done about the HIV/AIDS epidemic here in America on Blacks. Neither person knew the grandiosity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in their homeland and had no answer. Former President Clinton and President Elect Bush had a chance to approve a program entitled, Needle Exchange which would allow persons who are IV drug users to trade-in their dirty needles for new ones to help decrease the incidence of HIV/AIDS. Both failed to approve the bill. It’s said that this year over 20,000 people will die by the hand of HIV/AIDS and once again more than half of them will be Black. We need to stop blaming others for our ignorance. Now that you’ve gained a little bit of knowledge it’s your turn to do something to help preserve the African American race. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. A word for the homosexual brothers and brothers on the Down Low (DL) who are living a double lives, make it your mission not to pursue a homosexual and heterosexual relationship, choose one. By doing this you will help preserve the African American female, one of the most influential people on earth. You are putting us at increased risk of contracting this deadly disease. Be true to yourself, if you don’t who will. And ladies, make it your business to find out the HIV/AIDS status of your partner, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Educate yourself. Without the eradication of this disease we are running the risk of self-extinction.Allison Minor is a senior nursing major from Eunice.