This past Sunday, the attention of millions was focused on Super Bowl 50, but the day also marked the 16th year of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), an annual HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at the black population in the United States and the diaspora. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was first observed in 1999. The Strategic Leadership Council plans and implements this observance. This year’s theme is ‘I Am My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS.’
The National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights group dedicated to ending homophobia and racism, joined communities across the nation and world to acknowledge that black people, families and communities have been the most impacted by HIV/AIDS. Blacks make up 12% of the U.S. population, but account for 44% of new HIV diagnoses, the highest rate of all races/ethnicities. Among all blacks, gay and bisexual black men, especially young men, are disproportionately affected.
However, there are some encouraging signs of progress. New diagnoses among blacks declined by 22%, with a 14% decline from 2010-2014. New diagnoses among black women were cut nearly in half, with a 25% decline from 2010-2014. Black gay and bisexual men ages 13-24 experienced a steep increase in new diagnoses, but diagnoses among this group declined by 2% from 2010-2014.
“It is important to take this time to educate the public and reach out to African American New Yorkers, who make up a disproportionate number of those affected by HIV and AIDS,” said Sharen Duke, executive director of Aids Service Center New York City in a statement. “More than half of women with HIV are African American, rates of HIV transmission among African American men, particularly gay and bisexual men, continue to rise, and we must do all we can to move towards an end to this epidemic, an end to new infections and a ceaseless commitment to care for and get new treatments to those living with HIV,” concluded Duke.
Research shows that poverty in isolation and fear of discrimination, lack of quality and accessible healthcare, and overt and systemic racism–compounded with deep-seated stigma–continues to place many in the black community at-risk for infection. However, black youth and emerging leaders are stepping up like never before to make ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic a key pillar of justice for black lives in our nation. These resilient individuals are Talking to Stop HIV. They are leading innovative efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS by Doing It — Testing for HIV and promoting the usage of medicines that prevent and treat HIV–including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and antiretroviral therapy (ART).
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