Reporting Steve Pickett
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – There’s a troubling trend emerging in Dallas involving African American women and AIDS.
Currently, black women make up 22-percent of the population in Dallas — yet, according to county health officials, the group accounts for 71-percent of all female HIV cases.
Michelle Anderson told CBS 11 News that people have no clue she is HIV positive.
“When I tell them, they’re in shock.”
Anderson carries distinctive titles. She holds the crown of Ms. Plus America and lives with the virus infecting more women who look like her in Dallas.
In Dallas County, there are some 1800 other black women who share the same diagnosis. There is no other group of Dallas women that are impacted more by the disease.
The numbers are staggering – 7 out of 10 Dallas women with HIV are African American and AIDS education advocates and activists said they know why.
“We have a whole community of black men out there who are HIV positive, who are heterosexual, and nobody is talking to them,” said Marsha Jones, head of the Afiya Center, an HIV prevention center in south Dallas.
Jones went on to say that Dallas has, “an entire community of men, HIV positive men, heterosexual, and they’re under the radar. Those men are having sex with women and those women are getting infected.”
Ed Jones works with AIDS Arms Inc. and said some men make up ways to justify not being tested or not sharing their positive status. “You have a lot of us who won’t get tested. ‘I know I’m good’ — these are the excuses they give. And the tests are free.”
The distinction is crystal clear. Black women in Dallas County are almost eight times more likely to be infected with HIV, than their White or Hispanic counterparts.
“This is a major issue for the black community,” said Lisa Waitemon-Moses, with AIDS Arms. “ The same for infant mortality, diabetes, heart disease, and everything. We [African Americans] are bearing the brunt of this disease.”
Now Michelle Anderson wears her crown proudly as she works diligently to get the word out and slow the spread of HIV. But as she takes on the cause, one in 144 black women in Dallas County are already living with the virus.