Home » Episode 2 Of ‘Black HIV In The South’ Podcast Addresses Early Years Of Epidemic

Episode 2 Of ‘Black HIV In The South’ Podcast Addresses Early Years Of Epidemic

by NewsOne

According to 2020 data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American South accounted for 51% of HIV diagnoses, the highest percentage in the U.S. by region, also leading the country in new HIV diagnoses. Black Americans accounted for the highest rate of HIV diagnoses in nearly every U.S. region except for the West. The racial disparity was particularly pronounced in the South.

In Episode 2 of Black HIV in the South: How Did We Get Here? host Anna DeShawn welcomes back award-winning photographer and HIV awareness and education advocate, Duane Cramer, to further explore the experience of the Black American community, particularly in the American South, in navigating the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Cramer shares his experience of becoming positive with HIV in 1996 in his thirties, several years after the emergence of the epidemic in the early Eighties, a time when “people were dropping like flies,” Cramer says. By the mid-Nineties, Cramer describes a less dire situation. “Antiretrovirals were out, people were living, and viral loads were able to come down. So [it was] a different time.” But navigating life as he knew it was a different challenge. The stigma regarding his positive status was palpable. “There was a lot going on, just with the stigma; when to disclose, how to disclose, making new friends, finding new support groups and places where I could share my personal experience,” he says.

Cramer describes the horrific and visible side effects of the initial medications developed to treat the disease like AZT, which exacerbated the stigma around HIV/AIDS. “Those drugs back in those days had a lot of really horrible side effects and also distorted people’s bodies and the way they looked, whether they had facial wasting, whether they had lipodystrophy… So when you would walk around and see certain people, you would go, oh they look like they have ‘it.’ And so it was more noticeable…

Read the full article here

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