Although African Americans represent 27 percent of Milwaukee County’s population, they accounted for half of the county’s new HIV infections reported last year. Their risk for contracting the virus is 25 times greater than that of white women.
According to studies, substance abuse plays a major role in fueling new HIV infections, and African-American women are at increased risk for substance abuse. In Milwaukee County, more than 7,500 African American women need substance abuse treatment, according to a press statement issued by ARCW.
The three-year, federally funded collaboration between ARCW and Community Advocates is projected to reach 9,900 women and to conduct 600 HIV and 800 HCV tests while providing alcohol/substance abuse treatment and counseling for 492 women. Services offered under the grant award will begin during spring 2014.
“Through this strategic partnership with Community Advocates, we will be able to help African-American women in Milwaukee access the medical and mental health services they need to overcome addiction and stay safe from HIV,” said ARCW president and CEO Mike Gifford.
“We know behind the data and statistics are real women and families impacted by this issue, said Joe Volk, CEO of Community Advocates. “The need for this type of collaboration is apparent in the community, and we are committed and glad to be working with partners like ARCW who are equally committed to addressing this issue.”
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Milwaukee ranks seventh in the nation for urban areas in past-month binge drinking and first in the percentage of people with past-year alcohol abuse or dependence. Alcohol abuse by women of childbearing ages is 68 percent in Milwaukee compared with 50 percent nationally.
Health care costs for drug-related hospitalizations in Wisconsin totaled $287 million in 2010, an increase of 126 percent from the $127 million in 2002.