a recent report by the Black AIDS Institute (BAI), which found that if black America was its own country it would rank 16th in the world in the number of people with HIV â€“ ahead of nations such as Ethiopia, Botswana, and Haiti.
As a nation, we must recognize the epidemic for the crisis that it is and work to expand access to HIV prevention and treatment. In 2007, the CDC spent $300 million â€“ more than half of its domestic HIV prevention budget â€“ on fighting HIV in African American communities. But the reality is that weâ€™ve been facing increased challenges at a time of relatively stable resources.
An informed and engaged community is one of our most powerful weapons against the spread of HIV.Â Black communities need to keep HIV front and center, and we all need to talk openly about HIV to raise awareness and reduce the stigma and homophobia that have been associated with this disease for far too long.
Why is AIDS testing is a critical part of educating African Americans about the disease?
While itâ€™s obvious that HIV testing helps get people into treatment, the link to prevention may not be so apparent. There are two key reasons why HIV testing is critical for the nationâ€™s prevention efforts.Â First, research shows that more than half of new sexually transmitted HIV infections are transmitted by those who donâ€™t know they are infected. According to a recent CDC analysis, about 21% of the 1.1 million individuals living with HIV in the United States at the end of 2006 did not know they were infected.
And second, studies show that once people learn they are HIV-positive, most take steps to protect their partners.Â Over the past five years, CDC has expanded its efforts to prevent infections on both sides of the equation â€“ keeping HIV-negative individuals uninfected, and helping to ensure that those who are HIV-positive do not unknowingly put their partners at risk of becoming infected.
The CDC remains deeply committed to expanding HIV testing, especially for African Americans.Â For example, we awarded $70 million in grants over the last two years to the nationâ€™s hardest-hit states and cities to support their expansion of local HIV testing services, primarily among African Americans.
What you can do:
Get tested for HIV. To find a testing site center near you, visit hivtest.org or, on your cell phone, text your zip code to Know IT (566948).
Stand up against stigma, racism, and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.
Donate time and money to HIV/AIDS organizations.
What organizations can do:
Promote World AIDS Day in your organization. Useful materials are available at hivtest.org.
Encourage employees to get involved in World