Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join

Women Don't Need The Strong, Silent Type


Black men - in fact, ALL men - should understand that on Thursday, March 10, National Women and Girls HIV & AIDS Awareness Day is as much about us as it is about women and girls.

'In 2009, nearly a quarter of diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States were among women and girls aged 13 years and older. Additionally, almost 184,000 women and adolescent girls were living with HIV at the end of 2008. More than 101,000 women and girls with AIDS have died since the epidemic began.

Women and girls of color--especially black women and girls--bear a disproportionately heavy burden of HIV infection. In 2009, for adult and adolescent females, the rate of diagnoses of HIV infection for black females was nearly 20 times as high as the rate for white females and approximately 4 times as high as the rate for Hispanic/Latino females. The reason women of color are more severely burdened by HIV and AIDS are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather to some of the barriers faced by many in these communities across the country.'
- from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.

The CDC goes on to describe 'barriers' as a set of social determinants or 'circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, and age'. Also health outcomes or disparities evolved by living in an environment that is 'shaped by a wider set of forces: economics, social policies, and politics'.

Another startling statistic is that 85% of new HIV infections among American women are from infected male partners. Let me say that again...

Eighty-Five per cent of new HIV infections among American women are from men who are HIV positive.

This tragic realization has to placed right at the feet of the male population. We have not lived up to our roles in relationships, family, and community nearly as much as we should or need. Straight, bi-sexual, gay, undecided, or undeclared... We have denounced and denied responsibility and accountability at almost every opportunity and, sadly, the numbers bear it out.

Let's be real also... These numbers don't tell us the half of it- not even close. The cases of rape or physical and sexual abuse, domestic or otherwise, is almost as common as picking up dinner at a drive-through. The steady rise of new HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) infections and early pregnancies among girls, especially in South, is not measured in these numbers.

I look at these statistics and see myself. I am a heterosexual Black man living with HIV since 1986 and I have certainly kicked myself in the ass more times than I can remember. There are no apologies that can completely erase mistakes in judgment or decision making that hurt others and/or put individuals at risk.

I look at these statistics and see my son, Dominique, and what role he plays in lives of the people he meets and has relationships with. Or better yet, the role he continues to play in life of his son, Taylor.

I see the faces of the men, young and old, I know in my Washington D.C. neighborhoods as well as similar neighborhoods across the country. Are we willing to define ourselves at a higher standard for those around us? Are we willing to acknowledge and accept our flaws and inconsistencies and work to improve our standing? Are we willing to fight for the lives of those closest to us as well as those most trusting - and forgiving - of us?

I would like to see more men - straight men, in particular - standing up to be more visible, vocal, and involved with rebuilding and repairing our role in addressing the HIV epidemic among women and girls including:

  • Elected officials - President Obama, Congressional Members, and city and state leaders - and the commissions and committees they convene to address HIV & AIDS and related issues.
  • Professional athletes and entertainers - many of whom reside in the demographic that is most visible in U.S. new HIV infections;
  • Male clergy, pastors, and other Faith leaders still serve as the spine and foundation of most communities and most times represent the polar opposites of the HIV & AIDS stigma dynamic;
  • Male service providers, health care workers, board members, and executive directors - organizationally, leadership and mentoring is top down and vice versa;
  • My Facebook (male) friends, and you guys know who you are!
The history of the HIV & AIDS epidemic in the United States has always included us all - even though there are some who seem to want to claim ownership as if 'AIDS' was trademarked and incorporated, while others throw blame like hand grenades into a crowded church. Effective and healing outcomes can be assured only if we are using each other as support and not target practice.

As men we must recognize this National Women and Girls HIV & AIDS Awareness Day as the day we become actively involved in the solutions that heal us all. None of us can do it alone.


Show Comment(s)

Comments on Larry Bryant's blog entry "Women Don't Need The Strong, Silent Type"

"There are no apologies that can completely erase mistakes in judgment or decision making that hurt others and/or put individuals at risk."

Maybe not but a sincere/heartfelt "I'm sorry" goes a lot farther than one might think.

Great post.

Larry, how have you been? I feel you 99.9% I'm at the cabot lodge right helping robin and a brave new day with the empower us iniatiative. So tommorrow I plan on speaking out. The only thing that you have forgotten to mention is the amount of infections that occur via down low homosexual behaviors. since my diagnosis in may 2010. I have met via the internet, support groups here n ms, new orleans, baton rouge, and cleveland, oh many beautiful black women that have been infected by msm that still have indiscriminate sex with women without informing them of them that they secretly like men. If we don't do something to save our women from these vultures how will we reproduce as a people in the future. Please don't get me wrong I'm no gay basher. but enough is enough don't you think? we need to save future generations of our people by telling the truth about whats going on even if it threathens to expose key people in key places

Thanks for comment GHG... The two things most important to acknowledge about the 'down-low' is the stigma, discrimination, fear, violence, and ignorance (or worse) aimed at gay men - and gay women - that forces them to live secret lives.

Second, regardless of the combination, cheating on your spouse/partner, is cheating. Also, unprotected sex is unprotected sex is unprotected sex, whether it's gay sex, straight sex, Dick sex or Jane sex.

Indiscriminate sex happens in all directions, and accountability and responsibility is everyone's duty. We can not be distracted by singling out gay men or anyone else.

Larry, thanks for your eloquent response to GHG. GHG, thank you for your concern and desire to "save us Women". But, as a black woman and one with the life long STD of HSV II (it's there even if I can forget it), which occurred in an era that in reality leaves no margin for error for Black and Latina women primarily, I will say that we Black and Latina women/women of color, need to work more diligently at participating fully in the personal responsibility of saving ourselves.

Bi-sexuality is not a new phenomenon in any community. There exist epidemiology and evidence based data that will reflect that like all other health disparities, and co-contributing social phenomenon bi-sexuality in the Black and Latino communities (the bi-sexual bridge) appears to be disproportionate in many regards. In a society where the Black community bares the brunt of all kinds of health disparities including HIV/AIDS and the Latino community comes in a nice second; we have not gained anything continuing to harbor resentment, hatred, violent acts, mis-understanding, throwing our fellow bi-sexual or gay brothers (gay individuals) under the bus calling them the Vectors of this disease. It's got us nowhere and in the popular media (i.e. Oprah Winfrey and any other opportunity) the finger pointing and name calling (the retched downlow) has only served to distract us and divide us from dealing with HIV/AIDS in our community in a fashion that would better tackle this issue.

I'm am not condoning any dreaded "down-low" behavior (sneaking and creeping, dis-honestly, inability to acknowledge the truth you feel or live) whether it be practice by men, women, bi-sexuals, people who consider themselves heterosexual, gay, married, the unmarried, the "attached", or unattached whatever way you see yourself. But the name calling, the mis-understanding, the non-acceptance of how certain people are living their lives, the pointing the finger and holding certain people responsible as the primary Vectors of this disease and I myself remain innocent in this scenario, it just sets us back or keep us stagnant. It doesn't solve the problem, it keeps us going around and around and around like in a cesspool. The house continues to be on FIRE, and it's only going to worsen if we don't start with ourselves individually and collectively as a community work toward changing structural barriers that contribute to this disease.

As a Black women, a woman of color, a woman in her right mind most of the time, I need to own up to my own responsibility for protecting myself, for being real, for having the courage to walk away if my sixth sense says something doesn't feel right even if I considered myself asking the right questions. Too many of us women buckle under with men for wacked out reasons even those of us who consider ourselves "educated", "up-wardly mobile".

Many of us "do" have access and the means to tools that we can use to better protect ourselves, the female condom (FC2), the use of a diaphragm with spermicide that protects the cervix, abstinence, saying no, insisting the man use a condom (no glove, no love), etc. A heavy dose of reality and self determination would definitely help. I realize there are plenty of disadvantaged women/young women that are in a bad place and in any given moment may not have these options or even helpful, correct information readily at their disposal. But, not all of us need to be taken off the hook. So, GHG thank you for your concern and desire to protect me and those like me from the vultures of this earth. Your concern doesn't go unrecognized. But, until I as a woman, a Black woman, a woman of color accepts personal responsibility for myself, and my own protection and decision making, the person I have most to hold accountable for what may happen to me, is me.

I say that every thing lies in education if you know that unprotected sex will put you at more risk of getting HIV/AIDS you will be more cautious about it and secondly I believe that Elected officers as you said they can definitely play a role of awareness among women, thirdly if one has HIV/AIDS we should not discriminate them or in any way that makes them feel that they are neglected. They are part of our society they live among us, we should support them.

Being a black woman not part of the 85% HIV infected statistics truly concur with your statement... 'Men do need to accept responsibility in relationships'.

These mere cowards hide behind their mask which is a poor substitute for intelligence. Come forward and be seen for who you are.

We as women take chances all the time when it comes to relationships with men. But the falsehood of men holds an infinity of combinations, and a feeble body weakens the mind, bringing forth and allowing incogitancy.
Unbiased, without prejudice, but yet uninformed...

God brings people in our lives for many different reasons and we must all stand up and accept responsibility for this epidemic that we're ALL living with in today's society. It's time to let go of the resentment, stop finger pointing and be more altruistic. Be the change that we want to see in this world.

So I must ask..."Are you still kicking yourself in the ass?"

Being an educator of teenagers I've seen my share of pregnancy, promiscuity, and abuse by and toward both female and male children. It is difficult to expect them to understand or exhibit personal responsibility and accountability from those who don't see much of it every day from the people they look to for protection and support or the musical artists and/or sports figures they admire.
Men are definitely responsible for being men. Standing up for who they are and what they do. And it's true, when they don't we all suffer. But as stated we as a community don't always make it easy.
I've been lucky. There have been times I've allowed the emotional drag in my life to give justification to some very reckless behavior. I lost my very best friend, a brother, a dance partner and others to HIV. I live with the knowledge of those I love who live with the disease. I also live with the knowledge of all the people I love who STILL refuse to even get tested.
Even if the men in our lives are willing to be strong enough to tell us exactly who they are, we as women must take the responsibility see and accept them for who they are, not who we want them to be and we must also as stated understand when we are willingly putting ourselves at risk so we stop being victims.

Another day to ask people to be loving,kind and honest to one another. I think health relationship might be the focus and for more education to men concerning honor, courage, and loyaity to oneself and the community. I think the term Dow Low is an attempt to scap goat bi sexuals within the Black Community and Bi Sexuals that are addicted to drugs seems to be the main source of new HIV infection and hope the Black Community calls it what it is and not try to blame Gay People that have honest,faithful relationships. Education and treatment excess for drug addiction focus at Bi Sexual Men and Married men that are Bi Sexuals within the Down Low Leadership in the Black Community such as peachers and gate keeper to come out and be honest to adress Bi Sexual issues. My hopes and prayer are that Men in the commuity that are the leaders will come out to adress human sexualiy without the shame of this term Down Low to Say, :" For God Sake if you are Bi Sexual Man in the community and questioning your sexuality that is very normal and protect your parnters and yourself to use a condom and have safer sex and now let's talk about Sex and HONOR and the joys of a healthie marrage."

As a female/ woman who works in the prevention field, I wanted to thank Larry for this. So often this issue is not truly addressed in the work. Yes, boh parties are responsible but the statistics and how we're getting positive is scary. And it's nice to know that the situation is a least acknowledged. So thank you for shinning a light in what I feel is a closeted issue amongst this community. Mr. Bryant... You rock and I'm looking forward to reading more from you.

Leave a comment



My Favorite Links

Subscribe to Blog

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Larry Bryant published on March 9, 2011 12:56 PM.

An Inconvenient Truth was the previous entry in this blog.

Achieving An "HIV-Free Future" Will Need An Ignorant-Free Present is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



The opinions expressed by the bloggers and by people providing comments are theirs alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart + Strong and/or its employees.

Smart + Strong is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information contained in the blogs or within any comments posted to the blogs.

© 2016 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy