WOMEN LIVING LONG TERM WITH HIV

WOMEN LIVING LONG TERM WITH HIV

By Shadawn McCants

Imagine a young African American woman in her early twenties going to her local health department’s STI testing and treatment center. Her test results come back positive for chlamydia and syphilis, which require three rounds of antibiotics. She receives the  first and second treatments, but unfortunately, as tends to happen in Black communities, she doesn’t return for her final treatment. Now imagine, six months later, the city clinic advising her to come for a follow-up appointment. When this young woman makes it back to the clinic, the healthcare sta casually asks her if she is here to confirm her HIV results. Of course, she was shocked and scared.

 

This is, in fact, a very real situation. For six months, this clinic knew that the young woman had tested positive for HIV and never informed her that she should be tested again.  Then, there were discrepancies in the initial test and two consecutive confirmatory tests. Fortunately, this is where I stepped in two years ago to help her begin to navigate the complex emotions and decisions for her care that followed.

 

This is just another glaring reminder of a much larger issue that plagues Black communities, especially Black women—a healthcare system marked by racial disparities and a profound lack of cultural sensitivity. I know this because, as a long-term HIV survivor, I have seen  firsthand the pervasive stigma and systemic inequities that Black women still face regarding healthcare. Today, 50% of HIV cases are in Houston’s Black communities. In fact, as of 2020, women made up almost a quarter (23.8%) of those living with HIV, with a troubling 48.3% of these women being Black.  These statistics represent the glaring role of stigma, deeply rooted racism, and the persistent barriers to accessing healthcare accessing our Black, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ communities. More importantly, they represent real stories, struggles, and lives of our friends, family, and neighbors across the southern region of the US.

 

Black women openly report feeling dismissed and unheard, leading to misdiagnosis and inadequate care.  It includes receiving lower levels of pain management, facing longer wait times, and less likelihood of receiving necessary tests and treatments.  The story is the same in HIV, where there’s a marked gap in connection to care, retention in care, viral suppression and the management of comorbidities related to treatments and HIV itself. We must be the voice that demands more from our healthcare providers. Furthermore, a pervasive lack of cultural understanding and respect hampers.

 

communication and trust, decreasing the likelihood of treatment adherence. Addressing these issues necessitates a shi toward increased training in culturally competent care, recognizing it as essential to effective, equitable health care rather than a mere luxury.  e stark and indifferent delivery of the young woman’s diagnosis, combined with the escalating HIV rates in Houston and the southern US, underscores an urgent need for change.  It also reflects a healthcare system that frequently reduces patients to mere diagnoses, overlooking their diverse backgrounds, experiences, and needs.

October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit www.edwardsforhouston.com

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

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