Shanebrae I. Price is the HIV Prevention Specialist/Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator for SisterLove, Inc. and has been with SisterLove for two years. Ms. Price is experienced in Black women and STD/HIV/AIDS health issues. She is trained and certified in all Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) HIV prevention interventions for women and has conducted the implementation of VOICES, Healthy Love, Community PROMISE, SIHLE and HIV Counseling, Testing and Referral at SisterLove. Shanebrae is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) trained Disease Intervention Specialist. She monitors the STI testing program. Shanebrae currently coordinates the Adolescent HIV Elimination Coalition and Healthy Love Youth Network. She has an avid interest in youth and adolescent program development and HIV/STD interventions. Shanebrae is a recent graduate of the Black AIDS Institute African American HIV University. Ms. Price received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Alabama A&M University.
We’ve come together from around the world for one week to put our scientific, researcher, community health worker, social worker, psychologist, HIV positive, health educator and a host of other professional minds together in search of a cure, an answer, the missing piece to the puzzle that will help us end this epidemic that has haunted us for more than thirty years. We have answers, more clues, and more tools to place in our tool box and some folks say an end to this epidemic is in sight. So what will we do now America?!?!? What will we do now? We’ve got to hold ourselves and other people accountable! We must continue to advocate, educate, empower and fight for the people affected by and infected with HIV. However, if we really want to see an AIDS free generation, we must use a holistic approach. By this I mean we must address the myriad of issues surrounding HIV. Issues such as; poverty, lack of education, gender based and intimate partner violence, lack of access to health care, mental health, substance abuse and other social determinants that drive this epidemic. Dr. Fauci director of National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease said in his plenary speech we must incorporate Combination HIV prevention. Well American we can’t do this without the funding to support our efforts. We must hold law makers and our government accountable. Hilary Clinton said “women need and deserve a voice in decisions that affect their lives.” We must hold her accountable! Make women and girls a priority. Demand comprehensive sexual and reproductive health in our nation’s schools. I’m excited that we can now add Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) , a biomedical prevention tool to our tool box. However, I have one question; who will have access to these drugs, how will we get this to the communities most at risk? Well folks that’s our job! Our next steps are to go back to our communities and educate them on this new and exciting information we’ve obtained at this conference. In the weeks, months and ,maybe even years to come we must remember we came to Washington D.C. for AIDS 2012 to “Turn the Tide” to get us to an AIDS free generation! As I’ve said before, we are on our way, well on our way to an AIDS free generation. Please check Black AIDS Institutes website www.blackaids.org for information on post conference hubs near you.
Black women account for the largest percent of new infections among women, black women’s incidence rate is almost fifteen times the rate among white women. Imagine that?!?! One may wonder; why are black women disproportionately impacted by this epidemic? Why are black women/black people disproportionately impacted by mostly all epidemics and health disparities? Inequities related to socioeconomic status, gender norms, education, intimate partner violence and a host of environmental factors that impact our health. Having another sexually transmitted infection may increase the risk for HIV infection. Women with HIV are at higher risk for contracting or developing HPV and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. Yet, black women continue to support their families. Black women continue to be strong influences in their communities. Even in the face of HIV, black women still rock! It is black women infected with HIV that taught me, HIV is not a death sentence, it is a life sentence. Black women are living and thriving and not allowing HIV to stop then. A friend of mine once said to me, “HIV is the best thing that ever happened to me, it taught me how to take care of myself.” She has been living with HIV for more than twenty years. She has an eighteen year old daughter who was born negative. She is an activist and advocate in the fight against HIV. She works tirelessly and endlessly to empower women. She runs a support group for HIV positive women, facilitates workshops on the importance of treatment adherence, stigma/shame and disclosure. I have another friend who was perinatally infected and she devotes her time to other perinatally infected youth. She facilitates workshops on dating and disclosure. I admire the fight in these women and other women like them! Women are fighting this epidemic! One day America we are going to win! We must beef up our testing initiatives, educate our community on HIV associated risk factors, teach condom negotiation skills, screen for intimate partner violence and continue to empower each other. Together we will win the fight against HIV!
Black teens make up only 17% of the U.S. population but they accounted for nearly 68% of new AIDS diagnosis among teens. Young Black women and young black men who have sex with me are the most at risk for contracting HIV. Understanding this America we need to do, we must do more to protect our youth. Acknowledging that the rates of HIV and other STI’s continue to increase among young people; tell me again why we don’t have comprehensive sex education in all U.S. public and privates schools? If we want to see an AIDS free generation we must invest in our youth. Did you know that in one metro city youth expressed that they knew where they could access birth control but did not know where they could access HIV prevention services? Did you know that many family planning facilities do not provide HIV prevention services? It is reported that one reason young women of color do not negotiate condom use is because of fear of violence? We need all U.S. public and private schools to address intimate partner violence and make it a mandatory part of the curriculum. Increase funding for youth programing is needed to address the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among black youth. We need more funding to go toward teen clinics and youth centers. If we invest in youth, provide them with the tools necessary to prevent HIV and other STD’s and, include them in the conversations about sex and sexuality then we will see and AIDS free generation. We must acknowledge youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS! Go to www.advocatesforyouth.org and sign the petition for America to recognize National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Thirty plus years after the first AIDS case in America and still no cure, vaccine or, significant decrease in infection rates! Conference after conference, research after research, trial after trial, and still no significant decrease in the rates of infection among people that carry the burden of the epidemic. It has been reported that Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up only 2% of the U.S. population but, they have the most new HIV infections. Black people and other minority groups continue to be disproportionately affected by this epidemic. Black people only represent 12% of the U.S. population but nearly 50% of new HIV infections. Black teens represented 70% of new AIDS diagnosis among 13-19 year olds. What’s wrong with this picture? HIV is 100% preventable! The question is how? We have evidence to prove that behavioral interventions work to prevent HIV, the new paradigm of treatment as prevention is being proven to work, and a host of other biomedical interventions. But, when and how much longer do we have to wait to see a significant decrease in new HIV infections and a day that HIV no longer exists? Isn’t thirty years long enough? In the black community we have a saying “there is more than one way to skin a cat” so it is with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, there is more than one way to end this epidemic. We must use all our tools in our tool box and take a holistic approach to end this epidemic. We now have an HIV/AIDS strategy and several initiatives have begun in the U.S cities most impacted by the epidemic. I must say America we are on our way, we are on our way!