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AIDS and African Americans


Enormous progress has been made in the treatment of HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the pandemic more than 30 years ago. But a cure remains elusive, and some segments of society, particularly the African American community, continue to experience significant rates of infection.

National and local experts, researchers, health-care workers, and activists will discuss the crisis at a symposium, "HIV/AIDS Crisis Among African Americans" from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, October 19. The event is sponsored by the University of Rochester.

One in 16 African-American men and one in 32 African-American women will learn at some point in their lives that they have HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even though African Americans make up less than 14 percent of the US population, they represent half of all new HIV infections, the CDC says.

While scientists inch closer to a vaccine and other breakthroughs, some health-care experts question whether eradicating the disease is even possible until the underlying causes of the crisis are better understood.

Inequities born out of a mix of racism, homophobia, and poverty are helping the disease spread disproportionately in minority communities, says Cathy Bunce, a symposium panel member and principal HIV investigator with the University of Rochester Medical Center. Rochester residents between the ages of 18 to 26 accounted for most of the new cases in the city in 2010, she says.

The symposium is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Rush Rhees Library. It's free and open to the public.