The mass incarceration of black men in America’s prison system has many devastating effects on the black community as a whole. One of these devastating effects is HIV/AIDS.
According to Dr. Chris Beyrer, president of the International AIDS Society and Desmond M. Tutu, Professor of Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the mass incarceration of black men in America is leading to the high amount of new HIV cases among black women.
Dr. Beyrer and Professor Tutu both spoke at this week’s International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. Dr. Beyrer publicly spoke on the findings of some extensive research on this matter, which he played a major role in conducting.
The research revealed a stark correlation between the release of a high number of black males from the U.S. prison system and the high rates of HIV infections among black women in America.
“The problem is that people are being released without access to services and they experience treatment interruption,” causing their viral load to spike,” Dr. Beyrer said.
“They’re trying to reestablish family life, social life. And for many people, they’re also very strongly trying to reassert their $exual identity—that is a part of what people want and need to do. People are sometimes released with three days’ worth of antivirals [and told,]‘Be sure to follow up and get your appointment’. How likely is that to happen?” he continued.
The research findings that were reported at this week’s International AIDS conference got summed up in a special edition of The Lancet, a British medical journal. The journal’s report on the mass incarceration of black men and HIV/AIDS was also discussed at the conference. Here is a sobering summary of The Lancet’s report on this very serious issue:
“The CDC estimates that 87% of African American women with HIV become infected through hetero$exual $ex, and only a small percentage through injection drug use or other pathways. Incarceration rates have quadrupled in the USA in the past several decades, and this has reduced the number of men in black communities, and therefore the number of available partners for hetero$exual black women. This fact, together with ongoing racial segregation, contributes to the formation of insular $exual networks with overlapping concurrent partners.”