Compared to other racial/ethnic groups in the United States, blacks/African Americans account for a disproportionate burden of HIV and AIDS. While blacks represent approximately 12% of the U.S. population, they account for more new HIV infections (44%), people living with HIV (43%), and deaths of persons with diagnosed HIV (48%) than any other racial/ethnic group in the nation. Among blacks, gay and bisexual men, especially young men, are the most affected population—accounting for the majority of new infections.
Despite these numbers, we have seen encouraging signs of progress in the fight against HIV in the black community. Blacks are more likely than other races and ethnicities to report that they have been tested for HIV at least once—65% versus 46% for Hispanics/Latinos and 41% for whites. And the number of new HIV infections among blacks overall is on target to meet a 2015 national goal to reduce new infections by 25%. Additionally, black women had a 21% decline in new infections in 2010 compared to 2008.
But more work needs to be done to ensure that everyone knows how to protect themselves and their partners against HIV.
The theme for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2015, I Am My Brother/Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS!, means that everyone can be an important part of the solution. NBHAAD encourages black communities to:
- Get educated. Learn basic facts about HIV transmission, testing, and prevention.
- Get tested for HIV. CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. HIV is spread mainly through unprotected sex and drug-injecting behaviors, so people who engage in these behaviors should get tested more often. Learn more about CDC’s HIV testing campaigns aimed at increasing HIV testing among the black community through Testing Makes Us Stronger and Take Charge. Take the Test.
- Get HIV protection. Today, more tools than ever are available to help prevent HIV. In addition to limiting your number of sexual partners and using condoms correctly and consistently, you can talk to your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), taking HIV medicine daily to prevent HIV infection. If you believe that you had a possible exposure to HIV, you can also talk to your doctor right away about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP must be started as soon as possible to be effective—and always within 3 days of a possible exposure.
- Get treated. If you are HIV-positive, start treatment as soon as possible with antiretroviral therapy (ART), and stay on treatment. ART can lower the level of virus in your body enough to improve your health and greatly decrease your chance of transmitting HIV to your partner. Learn about others who have overcome challenges to HIV Treatment. See CDC’s new HIV Treatment Works campaign and Living With HIV page.
- Get involved. Raise awareness and fight stigma by sharing your story, volunteering in your community, or caring for someone who is living with HIV. Learn more through the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign.
On Thursday February 12 from 12 to 3:30pm South Health the Infectious Disease program will partner with VSU Student Health Center, Health Promotions, Student group Sigma Iota Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity and other student groups to promote STD awareness and HIV Testing. The South Health Infectious Disease program will provide free HIV testing, condoms and educational material to help raise awareness of HIV among African Americans. Please come out and get tested. For more information call (229) 245-8711.