There is good news and not-so-good news after watching "Out of Control: AIDS in Black America," the special one-hour documentary produced by ABC News. (Once again, just as a disclaimer, this writer worked for ABC News for some years.) The good news is that the long-overdue special touched upon many of the contributing factors of the epidemic. Reporter Terry Moran interviewed knowledgeable authorities such as Dr. David Malebranche, Phill Wilson and Dr. Louis Sullivan.
Phill Wilson delivered the money quote of the hour: "If these were white college students with 50% infection rates, this would be on the news every night. But it's poor black men and women so nobody cares."
Unlike the woefully inadequate BET "special" allegedly devoted to HIV and the down-low, the ABC producers presented plenty of statistical eveidence to demonstrate that the majority of heterosexual HIV transmissions had little or nothing to do with gay/DL/bisexual men.
However, the not-so-good news: Although the documentary addressed many uncomfortable issues, the biggest ones remained unanswered; Why are so many gay black men unwilling to become pro-active about their health status? The late Peter Jennings was seen with a round table of HIV-positive black men in Atlanta—gay, straight and bisexual. Many had complex reasons about their perceived role in society, the church and family. One man who described his former lifestyle as "DL" had been infected for a year before he revealed his status to his wife. His story is probably the exception as opposed to the rule, but, that type of ignorance is among the reasons why HIV is approaching cataclysmic proportions within our community.
It's beyond pathetic that after 25 years, black leaders are still trying to comprehend the severity of this crisis. TD Jakes provided a non-response about AIDS not being mentioned in the New Testament. Jesse Jackson was also interviewed. Although he has recently publicly come out for HIV testing, his voice has largely been silent.
The main question remains, "Why do so many straight and gay black men have unprotected sex? And, why do so many straight black women practice unsafe sex?" That was not asked and certainly not answered by the interviews with several women who wanted to blame gay men and the "DL" lifestyle for escalating rates. It probably challenges their victim status, and, like so many other issues in our community, is another massive failure at many levels.
Previously:Black America and HIV (Rod 2.0) The ABCs of Black HIV (Rod 2.0) Just Put it in Your Mouth (Keith Boykin) A Conversation with Keith Boykin (Rod 2.0) "The Down Low Exposed" (Rod 2.0) S. Africans Demand Arrest of Health Minister (Rod 2.0) "Fear Tactics" are Best Way to Reach the DL (Rod 2.0) Philly Anti-HIV Campaign Definitely Not a "Hit" (Rod 2.0) Un-Brotherly Love: Black vs Black and Gay (Rod 2.0) (Virtual) Sex and the City (Rod 2.0) The "Invisible" Man Returns (Rod 2.0) Coming to a Megaplex Near You (Rod 2.0) Couldn't I See the Signs? (Rod 2.0) The DL Chronicles (Rod 2.0) Kirk Franklin: Gays and the Black Church (Rod 2.0)