Over at The Breaking Point Lord Hannibal poses a real poignant question:
When the statistics about HIV and pregnancies appear to me in the form of names and faces of people I know, the gravity of the situation that the CDC and other agencies describe by way of percentages becomes sickeningly real. But even after speaking to Demi and Alicia, I am no closer to understanding why anyone would be willing to risk changing their lives forever, or ending it altogether, for the sake of physical gratification.
In my experience (and this is anecdotal) Whites are having just as much unprotected sex (sans condoms) as Blacks BUT the women are MUCH more likely to be using another form of birth control and if pregnancies occur much more inclined to have abortions if of a certain class AND more like to get married if hey get pregnant but don’t want to have the abortion of if of another social class or religious background.
So from what I'v seen Black and White folk sexual habits aren’t that divergent as far as condom use is concerned but is definitely different when it comes to use of other forms of birth control.
I haven’t met too many unmarried white women who aren’t on the pill..or something. All too often I meet young black women who aren't on the pill or other forms of birth control.
In the Black community there are several problems at play:
1. Lack of use of other forms of birth control. EVEN if these women weren’t using condoms there would be a lot less pregnancy if they were using SOMETHING. Socio-economics plays a major role in this as well. Birth control is expensive. So are abortions. So are other forms of birth control (not necessarily condoms) and everyone doesn’t have or qualify for Medicaid. Add to that the 65 - 85% of Black people who fall into the poor/working class category and spending money on birth control just doesn't seem like a priority.
Not only that but there is a serious mistrust of the pill and other forms of contraception in the Black community. I often ask women why they aren’t on the pill and the reasons vary from “I don’t want to gain weight” to “It will give you cancer.”
2. Lack of marriage. we know the numbers of black men and women who haven’t been married. The longer you go without being married the more sexual partners you are likely to have. I’m not making that up…its a fact that’s been stated as why it seems Black people have more sexual partners over lifetime then their whites or other groups.
3. Man sharing. In certain communities quality men are scarce. Hell men in general are scarce. You have a lot of women basically sleeping with the same men and vice versa. When you've got a small group of people and their basically sleeping wit each other....becoming infected with disease is bound to occur.
4. The prison population. Many men contract HIV and other diseases in prison. And we know what those numbers are like for black males. They get out and voila we’ve got ourselves an epidemic.
This is just a snapshot of why 70% of black women who give birth to a child aren't married and why we make up half of the one million HIV/AIDS cases in this country. And while there have been plenty of PSA's to the contrary many Black people, up until very recently, viewed AIDS/HIV as a White, gay male disease. So while there were plenty of messages saying wrap it up, they weren't properly tailored to a group who didn't believe it could happen to them.