In this paper, I will provide a summary of the video, Endgame: Aids in Black America, which was featured on Frontline, on the pbs.org website. The video featured a number of psychological themes, including the idea of stigma and how that can negatively impact a nation’s ability to effectively combat a serious issue, such as HIV/AIDS.
The video began with some shocking statistics about HIV/AIDS and blacks: 152 people become infected each day and half of them are Black, 2/3 of new cases of HIV among women are Black, and 70% of youth that are infected are Black. After listening to several experts in the field discuss the issue, it became apparent that there is a huge stigma surrounding this topic within the Black community. A natural consequence of stigmatization is the fact that people want to keep the issue quiet and hidden. In turn, the issue goes unnoticed and unaddressed, creating a vicious cycle.
One example given was how the gay Black community in Oakland was silent when it came to HIV/AIDS, unlike the outspoken gay community in San Francisco (which was predominantly White). Another heartbreaking example was the story of a woman whose husband betrayed her by not telling her that he was infected with HIV. It is hard to say exactly why he hid it from her, but it seems reasonable to assume that it was because of the stigma attached and the fear of rejection. Again, this comes back to the “vicious cycle” in that because he kept silent, he ended up infecting another person (versus telling her and using methods that would prevent infection).
It was pretty disheartening that something could have been done a long time ago about nipping the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the bud, but because political leaders did not make this topic a priority (probably because they did not want to be attached to something that had such a stigma surrounding it), the virus just continued to spread. It was not until Bush’s State of the Union Address that HIV/AIDS was given the attention it so desperately needed.
To date, $32 billion has been allocated towards fighting the “war” on HIV/AIDS, which includes education programs, prevention programs, treatment programs, and grants for research funding. All are important here, but education seems to be the most important because ignorance breeds and feeds stigma. Stigma squashes awareness, which in turn, prevents the issue from being addressed. If stigma can be eliminated, everything else can follow and progress can be made.