This Is How Black Women Feel

Among all women, Black women are disproportionately affected by HIV and have the highest rate of HIV diagnosis in the United States.1

Over the years, I have seen and learned we have not been a priority when it comes to talking about HIV and getting the message out to Black women, in my opinion. If we are unrepresented and this virus does not look like us, how can we know that HIV affects us at a higher rate? And what I mean by that is the ads and commercials for HIV are geared toward other groups of people.

Woman, Black, and living with HIV

First, we are women, Black, and living with HIV. That can be a lot for one to deal with. Especially when the society we live in still discriminates against us for so many different things.2

Next, we are affected by the gender and racial wage gap. This means that Black women will make less than both white men and women for the same work, even though Black women participate in the workforce at consistently high rates. This is something I have personally dealt with.3

We also face harmful stereotypes in the media and society. These stereotypes lead to biased treatment within education, employment, and our healthcare system. This also leads to disparities in maternal mortality rates and treatment for certain kinds of medical conditions compared to other women of different races.4,5

Managing the traumas

There are so many traumas packed on top of each other, and then I hear words like, "Why are they so angry?" Well, you would also feel a certain kind of way if you had to be faced with so many things that others do not see as a problem.

As mentioned above, Black women face multiple layers of discrimination and disparities. On top of those issues, we have to face HIV stigma from others, which then turns into internalized stigma (self-stigma). What we need are supportive services with peer-led groups to help us mentally cope.

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Bringing Black women to the forefront

If we can work harder to bring Black women front and center, then maybe we can change how HIV is looked at in Black communities, empowering more Black women to be able to accept their diagnosis without fear and shame. Creating campaigns, programs, and projects that look like us will help all Black women living with and affected by HIV to understand their value and how worthy they are.

Disseminating awareness should be imperative, but at times others do not see it as being critical because maybe they are not a Black woman who has to deal with it. As a Black woman living with HIV, I have met and talked with other Black women who feel inadequate because they are living with HIV. I want them to know how phenomenal they are, and they shouldn't let anyone take how remarkable they are away from them.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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