By Ariel Johnson
Published: Friday, February 26, 2010
Updated: Friday, February 26, 2010
In New Orleans, HIV/AIDS statistics are increasing at alarming rates in the Black community, especially among women. In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that Black women between 18-24 are contracting HIV/AIDS in greater numbers than any other demographic in New Orleans.
Why are African Americans—especially young black women—at greater risk of contracting the deadly virus? Jennifer Glick, with the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies (IWES), said contributing factors include ignorance about how the virus is contracted and lack of sex education. She added that women are “biologically at a greater vulnerability for HIV/AIDS.”
On Saturday, March 6, IWES will host a local “Red Tent” event as part of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The free, public event will be 2-6 p.m. at the New Orleans African American Art Museum, 1418 Gov. Nicholls St. Glick said there will be HIV/AIDS resources and information, tips on sexual health communication, workshops, and entertainment.
The IWES is dedicated to improving the quality of life, physical, mental, and spiritual health for women of color and their families. Glick, who has worked with the program for three years, said the primary reason young women are contracting HIV/AIDS at escalating rates is the lack of sex education. She said many young women are unable to talk openly about sex with a trusted older woman in their family.
The event will be an opportunity for intergenerational communication between women about the often-taboo subject of sex, Glick said. The term “red tent” is used today to reflect the historical use of red tents to isolate and “cast off” women during their menstruation cycles and that served as somewhat of a “women’s club,” Glick explained.