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1234, testing. 1234. This is the CDC in Atlanta on November 19, 1990.


That's Maxine Wolf. Maxine Wolf, she's 49 years old, and she is fierce. She's just flown down to Atlanta from New York City to meet with experts from the Centers for Disease Control. Now, Maxine, she is not a doctor and she's not a health professional. She is an activist, and she's come with a tape recorder.


I'll make you a copy that you can have.


I'm Lizzie Ratner. It's now 1990, and we are nine years into the epidemic. More than 100,000 people have died. Gay men are getting sick in mind boggling numbers, but they are also fighting back. But women, the world is just pretty much ignoring women with HIV. So, Maxine, she's been going to a lot of these kinds of meetings.


What you may not know is that we are women who have been focusing.


On the issue of women and AIDS for years.


Years. We are activists, no offense, but we.


Are not impressed by doctors, nor are we impressed by medicine in general, because.


We know that those two groups have.


Never cared about women. We literally had to convince the federal government that there were women getting HIV. We actually had to develop treatment and research agendas that were about women.


To be clear, women could and did test positive for HIV. And technically, the government knew this. The problem was it wasn't doing much about it. But Maxine, she and a bunch of other activists were trying to change this.


Maxine was part of the Women's committee of ActUp, and they had been pushing for a meeting with the CDC for months. And now, finally, they found themselves in a conference room in Atlanta, giving a presentation to some of the foremost experts on HIV and AIDS.


So the way we'd like to do it is that Katrina is going to talk first about some of the issues that she's seen. Women die, like six times faster than men with HIV or AIDS.


Katrina Haslip criminal. She's only 31, but she is already a veteran activist for women with HIV and AIDS. She is the only black woman in the room. She is small in stature, but she commands attention.


I don't trust the CDC or its definition, because it appears that from a distance, people are watching as we progress on and knowing that these series of symptoms are, in fact, progressing to full blown AIDS and they're not responding.


To give you some context as to why Maxine and Katrina had to work so hard to get those people in that Atlanta conference room to see women with HIV. AIDS had been framed as a man's disease, a gay man's disease. And so lots of people, from your average member of the public to high ups in the medical establishment, they just weren't thinking about women. A lot of them didn't even know that women could get HIV.


And the problem went deeper than that. Medicine was a male profession, had been for as long as anyone could remember. And sexism came with those white coats, or most white coats, anyway.


I'm the emeritus chair of two hospitals in Brooklyn, downstate Medical.


Howard Minkoff was an obgyn in Brooklyn in the 80s.


Women were disposable in those days, most of the women weren't cared about at all. Compared to the frail, pale male, as the old white guys are called these days, there is a difference in the way society weighs their rights and their values. It just became more apparent during the AIDS epidemic.


I saw myself as an inside the.


System activist, Dr. Kathy Anastas. She became an AIDS expert through her work at Montefior Medical center in the.


Bronx because I was one of the first doctors to speak up about HIV in women and that we needed to know more.


That lack of knowledge about women and HIV was obvious. Kathy still remembers being at an AIDS conference years into the epidemic, and someone.


Got up a man and said, it's not regular heterosexual sex, that transmitting it, all those women must be having anal sex. And I said, no, that's not actually what the evidence shows. What the evidence shows is that heterosexual sex transmits HIV to women. I don't think he believed me, but he did. Shut up.


Kathy was used to men not shutting up. She graduated from medical school in 1980, and at the time, only one in four medical students was a woman. And this showed up in the classroom.


Anatomy class, first year of medical school. It's like hundred medical students there. There's someone teaching it, a guy. They were all guys, almost all guys. And he puts up to teach anatomy, pinup photos of naked women. And he claimed, well, this is a medical book.


Women are just not valued at all.


As an obstetrician, Howard Minkoff saw that most of the medical community was concerned about women with HIV only when they were pregnant. And even then, they focused mostly just on their babies.


Anybody who cared anything about any of these people cared about the baby. Get the mother out of here. Let us take care of the baby. The victim of the epidemic is the baby. They were vectors. They weren't women. They were vectors.


And what do you think that was about?


People were concerned about the virus getting from a woman. They were completely indifferent to the virus getting to women.


This might have had something to do with which women were getting sick.


They're people.


They're not drug users. They're people who lived a normal life, had sexual intercourse, may have had an addiction, and had a tragedy.


I'm Kai Wright. You're listening to blind spot the plague in the shadows, stories from the early days of AIDS and the people who refused to stay out of sight. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, a surge of activism had begun to make progress on AIDS. Public awareness was growing, and elected officials could no longer just ignore it. In 1990, Congress passed the Ryan White Care act. This was an enormous milestone in the epidemic, and it provided over $200 million in its first year to fund care and treatment for low income people living with HIV. Today, it remains a crucial part of how care is funded in the United States. Lizzie Ratner, who's been reporting this series with me, takes the story from here.


Here's the problem amid all these promising new developments. The money that was going to support poor people with HIV, the funding that was going to fight the disease, there were a bunch of people who were being left out. Women. Studies on HIV and AIDS, clinical trials to test new treatments, medical conferences, those were all about men. And the very definition of AIDS itself didn't include symptoms that were being experienced specifically by women. This story begins inside a maximum security prison for women.


We were these supposedly criminals, the outcast of society that was responding to the epidemic in a way that some communities out here were not even responding. And that really made us hyped.


One name kept coming up at the center of this story.


Katrina. Katrina. So I kind of became obsessed with. Who is Katrina Haslip? Katrina was an inspiration to all.


Katrina Haslip, the woman who spoke at the CDC meeting. She was young. She was only in her 20s when she arrived at the Bedford Hills correctional Facility. She grew up in Niagara Falls, one of eleven kids. In her late teens, she found Islam and married a religious man and moved to Brooklyn. But by the age of 21, she'd moved back to Niagara Falls and fallen pretty deep into an addiction to heroin. She could stay out on the streets all night and still somehow managed to go to college in the morning. She soon started doing sex work and stealing, and the word was that she could lift a wallet off of anyone. She ended up getting arrested for pulling a knife on a client. And that is how, in 1985, she ended up in a maximum security prison for women in upstate New York.


Katrina was very fiery, and she had a real temper.


Judith Clark. She met Katrina in solitary confinement, the prison's prison at Bedford Hills.


I think she got into a scuffle with an officer is my memory of what led her there. And I remember her saying something like, oh, God, it was worth it. Oh, my God, with this great big smile on her face.


Judy was also in prison at Bedford, and the crime that got her there, it was a big deal.


Good evening. Echoes of the violent radical underground of the 1960s rolled over the New York suburb of Nanuette today in the barched ambush of an armored car that left one guard and two policemen dead.


Among the four suspects arrested, the brinks robbery. It was a crime committed by an offshoot of the far left weather underground. Three people were killed. Judy was driving the getaway car, and she and Kathy Boudine were among the four people arrested. Judy was sentenced to 75 years to life in prison.


Our cells were very bare. Cinder block walls and a solid door and then a small window on the other side that had a lot of mesh on it.


I mean, it sounds kind of terrifying. It was in solitary confinement. They were allowed just 1 hour a day outside. And most days Judy would walk laps around the track alone. And then after a few months, suddenly this woman appears.


She's beautiful and very elegant. She wore a head wrap. She wore a long dress and was incredibly stylish. There are people who managed to be stylish in prison, and Katrina was one of them.


And something between the two women clicked. They were both grappling with their lives before prison, what they had done. And so every day they would walk and just know.


She told me a little bit about her life and about her own struggle toward recovery, having gone through a period of addiction. On the one hand, she's incredibly intelligent. She was a practicing muslim, but she had this fire, and it could get her in trouble.


And that is what drew them together and got them to start organizing in prison.


Let's take a look at the issue of AIDS in prisons.


This is Dr. Sheldon Landisman, and he's speaking at a forum in 1987, a.


Huge percentage of the persons in the prison system, and I can't get a good handle on the number for anywhere from 70% to 80% have used drugs prior to coming to prison. We know from a variety of studies that at a minimum, 50% of the intravenous drug users in the New York City and surrounding area are infected with the AIDS virus, taking the most conservative estimates.


AIDS was becoming a huge problem in the prison system, and not just among injection drug users. The New York Department of Health tested women as they were entering the prison system in 1988. It found that fully 18.8% of women tested positive for HIV. That is almost one in five women, higher than the rate for men in these numbers. They were probably an undercount. In Bedford, so many women had fallen sick and disappeared that rumors were running wild.


Nobody know what the hell was going on.


Meet Awilda Gonzalez.


Everybody calls me Wendy.


Wendy got to Bedford around the same time as Katrina in 1985. She was in for possessing and selling drugs. And when she arrived, she found everyone on edge.


Well, many women bullied all the women, harassed them, beat them, shame them, blamed them, their own fear, because at one point, we all looking at these woman's and saying, wait a minute. How many times did I share a needle? See? But how many times did you made love to somebody and they didn't tell you, or they didn't know?


There was still a lot of confusion around how you got HIV, but there was one thing that everybody knew. If you got infected, you died.


I mean, no one wanted to be seen going to the medical department for anything because they were afraid that people would say, oh, she's an AIDS bitch.


Wendy worked as a hairdresser in the prison hair salon, and she was starting to get lots and lots of questions.


My scissors, the knife that I used to do know styles in the hair, and women questioning me, what are you doing to disinfect this? And I say, you know what? I need to educate myself. Either people were going to turn against each other as was happening, or people were going to be able to seek each other.


The women started organizing to put together a meeting. You didn't have to be HIV positive.


To, you know, we wanted women among the druggies. We wanted women among the good old christians. We wanted white women, we wanted hispanic women. We wanted black women. We wanted religious. We wanted non religious. We wanted hippies.


Katrina was part of that initial organizing group. She worked in the law library, and so she began spreading the word to other women. Soon they had 30 people who were interested. Here's how she described that first meeting in a documentary a few years later.


So we went around introducing ourselves. And about the third woman, she said, my name is Sonya, and I have AIDS. And I had never heard anybody say that before out loud. And I don't think anybody else in the room had heard anybody else say that out loud. And the room went, like, silent. And then people engulfed her. And it made me cry because it was like there was so much support in the room for this person who was able to say, I have AIDS. And I thought to myself, I could never say that.


Katrina had tested positive for HIV a few months before this meeting, but she was not ready to be public about it. She told me, she told a couple.


Of other friends, Judy Clark. It's sort of all in, nothing in there, I think, really. Once she decided that it was too much effort to keep it secret, it liberated her. Like, she then could have a voice and a role. And we were connected by then two people on the outside who were also powerfully raging a struggle. And she loved the idea of that struggle. And so I think it gave her a sense of purpose and identity that was part of her own self liberation.


At a meeting one day, Katrina got up in front of everyone, and she.


Told them, and people's mouths, like, dropped because, like I say, see me as this muslim. They see me as this girl who jogs in the yard all the time. I was the law library clerk, so, no, I was straight. So how did she get infected? And so I said to them, close your mouth. Katrina never complained about nothing. She would come with her little fragile self and her little notebook. Feisty, fair, soft spoken Katrina, little piece of chocolate. Her skin was so chocolate, like, you know, nice and stuff. Very analytic. While we all going off, she was sitting down listening.


Because Wendy was a hairdresser. She knew everybody, so she was also recruited to join the group.


We were so blessed to really establish something that helped us survive at that time and be creative and be productive because society forgot about us. Like they forget once you go to prison, that's it. Especially a maximum security. They don't care what happened to us. We're just dogs.


But the Women, they did care about what happened to each other. And so they would talk openly in these meetings about their fears and their symptoms and how to protect themselves. Here's Wendy leading a workshop at the prison in Edford.


Okay, so I. Blingo, Bioleta, loose, Rosa, Mileni.


Okay, she's talking about safe sex.


I am the greatest sex educator ever. Honey.


By this point, the group had a name for itself. They called it AIDS counseling and education. Or ACE for short. It was the first known AIDS group for women in the Nation, and it was formed in a prison. It was the beginning of what would become Katrina Haslip's life's work.


I represent the excluded and underrepresented groups of Women, minorities, and HIV positive individuals, and also prisoners, of which I am a member of all of the above.


Pretty soon, people outside of Bedford began hearing about Katrina's work. One of them was Terry McGovern. She founded the HIV law Project in lower Manhattan.


So when these women started to come in, a number of them had been incarcerated at Bedford Hills, and they were all talking about this jailhouse lawyer who had helped them, Katrina Haslip. And whenever they said Katrina Haslip, they would get these broad smiles. So I kind of became obsessed with, who is Katrina Haslip?


Terry would soon get to find out because it was September of 1990 and Katrina was about to be released from prison. Judy Clark was still inside.


She was very clear that when she left Bedford, she was going to be part of the movement outside. She was going to bring the voices of women and black women to that movement that she saw, that it was a predominantly white movement at that point.


And Katrina would do almost anything to get those voices out there, including breaking her parole. That's coming up after the break.


Blind Spot is supported by housing works. Housing Works was founded by a small group of AIDS activists in 1990 and today is one of the largest community based organizations in the country, serving tens of thousands of New Yorkers annually through community based health care, harm reduction services, supportive housing, job training, advocacy, and more. Housing Works is also known for their chain of beloved New York City thrift stores, which fund their work. Housing works thrift shops are frequented by discerning fashionistas, socially conscious celebrities, and sustainable style influencers alike. And now shoppers across the country have 24/7 access to an expertly curated mix of new, gently used and vintage clothing, shoes and accessories on their online store. All purchases from Housingworks, eshop fund, life saving services, and relentless advocacy. To end HIV and AIDS and homelessness. Visit eshop and use coupon code blind spot for 20% off your purchase.


This is blind spot. The plague in the shadows. I'm Lizzie Ratner. On September 1090, Katrina Haslip was released from the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. Within three weeks, she breaks her parole by taking a bus to Washington, DC, to join a massive protest organized by ACT UP. And there's someone else there. Terry McGovern of the HIV law project.


I had been to many act up demonstrations but they were never, like, predominantly women of color with HIV speaking. So it was a different type of demonstration, for sure. Name is Iris dela Cruz. I'm 37 year old woman with AIDS. One of the reasons why women remain untreated is because they don't have Medicaid and they have no access to health care. They can't afford it.


Terry had just submitted a lawsuit that dealt with precisely that. She was suing the federal government for discrimination. Her argument was that the government's definition of AIDS left out symptoms that affected women.


I'm Phyllis Sharp from New York. I'm also a plaintiff in this lawsuit against the Social Security, charging them with discrimination against women. I applied April 1989. I couldn't work. I constantly have urinary tract infections, chronic fatigue, and I was denied. It's time they changed the definition and stopped killing women, denying among their disabilities. Thank you. And then suddenly, somebody said, katrina Haslip is getting off the bus.


Terry and Katrina had never actually met before in person.


And I remember I looked over, and there she was. And I walked over and we hugged, and I said, are you nuts? What are you doing here? You're going to get in trouble with your parole. And she said, I don't give a shit. Of course I'm here.


Actup had organized this demonstration to pressure the federal public health system to recognize women with HIV. Their focus was the fight to change the definition of AIDS. Now, to understand this fight, it's important to remember the basic difference between HIV and AIDS. HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is, well, a virus. It disables your immune system. And when it gets really advanced, it can lead to a bunch of illnesses that are collectively known as AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Now, when the Centers for Disease Control first came up with its list of AIDS defining illnesses, it based that list on what they were seeing in men, and it excluded illnesses that were showing up in women, like yeast infections, one.


After the other, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer.


And this led to a lot of problems. First, it meant that a lot of women with these symptoms, they didn't know that they had AIDS or that they might have AIDS. But it also meant that even when a woman knew she was HIV positive and when she was really, really sick, she still couldn't get an AIDS diagnosis. And this meant that she couldn't qualify for government benefits like Medicaid and disability. And Katrina was one of them. So she joined the campaign by actup to get the CDC to change the definition of AIDS.


So I've watched. And as an HIV positive woman, I, too, have suffered some of these symptoms. It's important for you to know that women are ill prior to any diagnosis of HIV and that they often die of HIV complications without ever meeting the CDC definition of AIDS.


It's just a few weeks after the march in DC now, and Katrina is down in Atlanta speaking to a bunch of bigwigs at the CDC. She's there with Maxine Wolf, the act up activist, the one who brought her tape recorder. Maxine remembers the meeting. I had to give a whole list of the assumptions that were underlying the fact that women were not being treated. Did you feel like you accomplished stuff and you actually managed to move them in that meeting? No, we didn't feel like we moved them. We felt like we told them what they needed to know. When we were walking out, Katrina just turned around and looked at them, and she said, I hold you responsible for every woman with HIV who dies, including myself. And we left.


They didn't say.


And they were just standing there with their mouths opening.


I can remember, in fact, I'm having a visual film going in, in my mind right now of when I've had a number of women activists come into my conference room on the 7th floor of building 31 on the NIH campus decades ago.


That's Dr. Anthony Fauci. He was the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and that meant that he ran AIDS research in the United States. It also made him a target for criticism from activists like the AcT UP people who were in this meeting who were really, really frustrated with how many people were dying and how little the government seemed to be doing about it. Do you happen to remember just one woman who was part of that? Maxine Wolf.


Oh, yeah, she was a Tigris. I mean, she was very proactive, maybe even a little. You know, when people are not listening to you retrospectively, you wind up respecting them for being that way.


Yeah, I mean, we've talked to a number of women who said that in the late 80s, they really had to work to convince their doctors to test them, because this idea that women could get HIV just wasn't out there in the general public that much.


I think somehow or other, the message was either not getting to or the general, very, very busy private physician who is in a region of the country or who has a population of patients that you would not intuitively feel would be at risk.


Where do you think the bridge fell apart? What was missing in the know?


If I had a clear cut answer, Lizzie, I would tell you, I don't know. It's as puzzling to me. I think there are multiple complicated reasons why that happens. The lack of people connecting the dots. I've been saying it now for 42 years, that everybody can be at risk.


Fauci wasn't exaggerating. He actually did write an article that was published years earlier, and it said that he expected the disease to go beyond gay men. Even so, women were still being excluded from treatments and studies in the medical establishment. It was stubborn. It wasn't moving. And then in December 1990, activists scored a breakthrough.


There was a conference. Finally, because of all this pushing, there was a conference at NIH about HIV in women.


Dr. Kathy Anastas was there. She's the doctor whose teacher brought pinups to her anatomy class. It's almost ten years into the epidemic, and this is the first national conference that focuses on women.


A lot of people invited who had been pushing to have more studies of HIV and have any study of HIV in women.


Actually, activists, doctors, researchers, they were all there, and they were fired up. They were not going to leave without getting something.


During that meeting is when Tony Fauci decided that they needed a study of women.


Finally, a study about women. It didn't begin until 1993, but it continues to this day, and it is the largest study on the progression of HIV in women in this country. But studies take a long time, especially when you have an incurable disease. Katrina had tested positive for HIV three years earlier, and her immune system was getting weaker. She was getting sicker. She didn't have a lot of time, and there was a lot that still needed to change, so she kept speaking out.


Y'all ready for this? Let's do this. Help me understand what went wrong. I've been living in this country far too long. I need the power. Condoms, too. It's a gift. Alive. I need power. Why are you here? I'm here because I'm an ex prisoner, and I'm also HIV infected. And I learned that status while being confined, and I want him.


Katrina's at an act up protest outside the Department of Corrections in Albany, New York. She's wearing this fake prisoner costume, and she's got this black leather hat, tilted kind of to the side, a nose stud, gold hoop earrings.


And because I want adequate health care for prisoners that are left there, and it shouldn't be a death sentence that they have HIV. I want education for them, peer education. I want them to let out terminally ill individuals due to HIV, because that's like double jeopardy, and it becomes a death sentence for those individuals, and if they pose no threat to society, let them out and let them die in dignity. So that's why I'm here.


Katrina was a force during this period. She started an HIV support group for women who were getting released from prison, and she called it Ace out. She also kept fighting to change the definition of AIDS. And she did this, on the one hand, with act up through its campaign against the CDC. But she also worked with Terry McGovern on her lawsuit, the one against the government.


So I feel like she taught me this concept of, like, joyful resistance. It's joyful that we get to fight this together. It's joyful that we're standing up and resisting. Yes, we are being victimized, but we are not victims. We're models of resistance.


But Katrina was more than a model of resistance. She was also an advisor. As the lawsuit was winding its way through the courts, Terry would go to her for guidance.


She was my primary strategy advisor. I think she really loved the other women that she saw being mistreated and saw dying. She really was drawn to the law and justice because some part of her just couldn't ever be okay with this. Katrina was not well for very long on the outside. Like, she kept getting pneumonia and lots of gynecological problems and couldn't qualify for.


Medicaid or disability even Katrina couldn't get an AIDS diagnosis, only HIV.


So that meant as she got weaker, she didn't have a home care attendant. And here was, in my view, one of the biggest heroes. I hate that word. But really. And she was, like, falling on the floor with nobody to pick her up. We were sending clients, patients, volunteers to go help her.


Katrina was in and out of the hospital.


She was at St. Luke's Roosevelt a lot. And she'd have, like, high boots on and in the bed, and I'd be like, why are you wearing these high boots? She said, I snuck out and went shopping, and then every time I went to see her, she used to steal my wallet. She'd say, you're missing anything. She did it a few times. So she was so lively, actually, and funny and so wanted to live.


Finally, after years of fighting, in the fall of 1992, the CDC offered the activists a deal. They were going to change the definition of AIDS, but it wouldn't include every symptom the activists had asked for.


And they were offering this compromise of bacterial pneumonia, tuberculosis, cervical cancer, and 200 or fewer t cells. I remember having very serious conversations with.


Her, Katrina, from her hospital bed, and.


She felt strongly that we should take it, that it was too important to not take it at this point, especially with the 200 t cells, that that would bring a lot of people in. And, yes, there should be many more things in it, but there's no time for this. As I remember her saying.


In October 1992, Terry and the coalition of activists decided to accept the CDC's offer. Terry raced to the hospital to tell.


Katrina, because I wanted Katrina to make a statement. So I told her that the definition was being expanded. And then she gave this statement that was kind of know. This never would have happened without women standing up for themselves, without activists. This is not the way this should be. Right? And I couldn't say she was happy. She was dying. She was so angry and wanted the record to reflect that we had to fight tooth and nail to be acknowledged of dying of AIDS.


The new CDC definition was set to go into effect in January 1993. So if Katrina lived into the new year, she would get the AIDS diagnosis, but she didn't live. Katrina Haslip died on December 2, 192. She was 33 years old.


You. For Katrina to die and never get AIDS, given who she'd been, I started to just feel just, like, shell shocked and sick.


After three years of fighting, Terry and the activists had won, but Katrina had died, and it was too late for scores of other women with AIDS.


I really have this recurrent memory, know, walking into the office here, and it was those pink messages, like, piles of messages of clients that had died. It kind of felt like everybody was dying, and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were dying. So we were winning. Who cares, right?


But the victory did matter. The number of women diagnosed with AIDS went up 45% after the CDC changed its definition. And that's because all of a sudden, HIV positive women suffering from one of the newly included symptoms, they were being counted as having AIDS.


It's ultimately really weird to win lawsuits for people who are dead, even when I teach it, like I teach at a school of public health. So I try to say, here is why science is not neutral, right. And whenever I show that 45% increased slide, I never feel joy. I feel really angry and sad. Most of these women are not around to be in the films. On the other hand, as I have, I hope, been able to describe, I carry them. Right. But nothing about this is okay.


Did you have a memorial for her in the prison?


Yes, we did. And I think we also had the.


Quilt for Katrina Awilda Gonzalez. She was still in prison when Katrina died. She was released a few years later, and she and a group of women. They stitched a panel for the AIDS memorial quilt in memory of Katrina, because.


The quilt was also part of our therapy every time somebody passed away. So we will get together and design the quilt, and we will sit around a big table to design it and to talk about the person and to share beautiful memories. Yeah, that was part of our therapy. Katrina was a powerful, determined woman. She fought to the end. That's what counts. She got the chance to be a movement leader, an eloquent, powerful, incredibly impactful movement leader.


That's Judith Clark again. She was released from Bedford in 2019.


But she didn't get the chance to then say, okay, that's great, but what about my life and who I want to be? Which is a challenge that all of us have as we re enter life outside of prison.


Before she died, Katrina wrote the introduction to an Oral History of ace called breaking the walls of Silence. And it's the story of how these women came together and began changing the story of AIDS for women.


Katrina. Katrina the Migida, page ten. Okay, let me see.


Katrina's old friends, Wendy and Judy. They're going to read her words.


We were the community that no one thought will help himself. Social outcasts. Because of our crimes against society, in spite of what society inflicted upon some of us, we emerged from the nothingness with a need to build consciousness and to save lives. We made a difference in our community behind the wall, and that difference has allowed me to survive and thrive as a person with AIDS. To my PS in Beffle Hills correctional Facility. You have truly made a difference. I can now go anywhere and stand openly, alone, without the silence. Katrina Haslip, 1990.


The medical establishment in the United States fully recognizes that women can get HIV and AIDS. The field of women's health is much more robust, and women with HIV are surviving and, yes, thriving into their even seventy s. But we have so much farther to go. Among the women who test positive for HIV each year in this country, more than half of them, more than half are black, and almost 20% are Latina.


That racial disparity among women is actually a defining trait of the AIDS epidemic in America. No matter how you slice it, black people have been shockingly overrepresented since the beginning in who contracts the virus and who develops AIDS and who dies from it. Even if few people acknowledge these facts, and in the years following Katrina Hesslip's death, black people would begin to account for the majority of all new infections and new AIDS diagnoses each year. There are so many reasons for this disparity, but one of them, painfully, is the black community's reluctance to confront HIV and AIDS when it came for us.


You know, God hates homosexuals, or God hates you because you doing drugs, or this is a raft of God or whatever negative, destructive messaging that they got. Most times they got it from the pulpit, the most influential place in our.


Community in our next episode, we ask what broke down in Black America when HIV showed up. Blind spot the plague in the Shadows is a co production of the History Channel and WNYC Studios in collaboration with the Nation magazine. Our team includes Emily Boutin, Karen Frillman, Anna Gonzalez, Sophie Herwitz, Lizzie Ratner, Christian Reedy, and myself, Kai Wright. Our advisors are Amanda Aranchek, Howard Gertler, Jenny Lawton, Marianne McCune, Yoruba Richen, and Linda Villarosa. Music and sound design by Jared Paul, additional music by Isaac Jones, and additional engineering by Mike Kutchman. Our executive producers at the History Channel are Jesse Katz, Eli Lehrer, and Mike Stiller. Thanks to Miriam Bernard, Lauren Cooperman, Andy Lancet, and Kenya Young. I'm Kai Wright. You can also find me hosting notes from America Live on public radio stations each Sunday. Or check us out wherever you get your podcasts. And thanks for listening. Blindspot is supported by Housing Works, an organization dedicated to ending HIV and AIDS and homelessness through life saving services and relentless advocacy. Housing works New York City thrift shops have long been a favorite spot of the most fashionable and socially conscious New Yorkers. Now shoppers around the world have access to their expertly curated mix of new, gently used and vintage pieces.


Visit eshop and use coupon code Blind spot for 20% off your purchase.