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   Attention African-Americans: Let's Talk About Sex


Attention African-Americans: Let's Talk About Sex

by Victor McGlothin

AIDS has become the undisputed champion executioner of African American men, ages 25-44. And the most surprising and disturbing part is that the community is in denial.
From the bump-and-grind lyrics of R&B to the growing number of best selling novels that offer play-by-plays of one tawdry touch-and-tickle session after the next, let's face it, the African-American community is an avid consumer of sex. But more often than not, what can result from of an ill-fated intimate coming together doesn't get mentioned anywhere in the Grammy acceptance speeches or the footnotes of best-selling erotic tales meant to be read with the shades drawn. Listen to the people who sell sex to the African American community, and you'd never realize that AIDS is the #1 killer of African American men!

When I first heard that statistic four years ago, I refused to believe it was plausible. We would have surely known that something was ravaging our community with such unrelenting violence. Besides, everyone knew that the real menaces were crack cocaine and black-on-black homicide. But it's true: AIDS has become the undisputed champion executioner of African American men, ages 25-44. And the most surprising and disturbing part is that the community is in denial. Not one of my college-educated friends is impressed--scary as hell, all things considered. I thank God that I am not in that number: I'm trying to do something about it.

Since no one wants to talk about the dangers that AIDS holds for the African American community, I spent nine months penning a contemporary novel, Autumn Leaves. I quickly found that it was much easier to sell a tragic story billed as a boy-girl love-thang gone bad than a frightening truth. The publisher and I both agreed, after a stint of ask-your-neighbor research, that it was more prudent to omit the mention of HIV/AIDS on the book jacket. To my delight and surprise, however, the novel not only found an appreciative audience, but became a bestseller. Yet I still faced the same dilemma: I allowed marketing worries to dictate if not deter me from shouting as loudly as I could, with my literary voice, that I had written a story inspired by the hope of saving lives through awareness and prevention.

Now AIDS is the #1 killer of African American women, too. And knowing that has made it impossible not to speak out. For the first time in the history of this country, African Americans have no one else to blame our troubles on. We dug this hole for ourselves. The fact that AIDS kills more blacks in America than anything else in our country should warrant some serious conversation. I'd be willing to bet my last thin dime that many of those who have died from AIDS complications would have been more cautious about preventing it had they been made aware of the enormity of the threat.

Will we continue to pay to read and hear about sex, hold our tongues about its dangers, and stand in increasingly longer lines to bury our loved ones? Forget about sex--let's talk about that!

For comments or inquiries, please email Mr. McGlothin at

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This story was published on September 16, 2003.
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