The Louisville AIDS Walk is this Sunday, and for many, it’s a time of solidarity and celebration. But AIDS activism in Louisville faces a big challenge: apathy. There are more people living with HIV in Louisville now than ever before, but the disease doesn’t make the headlines it once did.
One thing that hasn’t changed as much as activists want is the stigma that comes along with living with, being tested for, or even talking about HIV and AIDS. And we know the effects are racially disproportionate; African Americans make up 32% of HIV cases in Kentucky, even though only 7.7% of the commonwealth’s population is black.
This week on Strange Fruit, we spoke with Brad Hampton, director of the AIDS Walk, about what we can expect this year (hint: wear red!). Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, gave us the stats on the HIV racial disparity in our city, and some of the reasons why it may be so broad.
Chicago-based poet Tim’m T. West explores the difficulty of telling a new partner you’re HIV positive—and some of the reactions that may follow—in his piece “Umm… Okay.” It’s featured in the anthology For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Still Not Enough.
We also met Gary, an African-American gay man living with HIV for the past seven years. He told us the story of his diagnosis and offered some advice that it seemed could apply to us all, regardless of HIV status: Openly communicate with your partner, even about difficult subjects, and value yourself enough to make your life and your health a priority.