For the last 17 years, February 7th has been designated as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD).
NBHAAD is a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative designed to encourage Blacks across the United States and the Diaspora to get educated, get tested, get treated, and get involved with HIV/AIDS efforts, as HIV continues to devastate Black communities.
When looking at HIV/AIDS by race and ethnicity, Blacks have more illness and more deaths than any other racial/ethnic group. 1,2
Here are some factors that contribute to these statistics:
- There are a greater number of people living with HIV (prevalence) in African-American communities, and the fact that African-Americans tend to have sex with partners of the same race/ethnicity means that they face a greater risk of HIV infection with each new sexual encounter.
- African-American communities continue to experience higher rates of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) compared with other racial/ethnic communities in the United States. Having an STI can significantly increase the chance of getting or transmitting HIV.
- Diagnosis late in the course of HIV infection is common, which results in missed opportunities to get early medical care and prevent transmission to others.
- Many at risk for HIV fear discrimination and rejection more than infection, and many choose not to seek testing.
Increasingly, more deaths related to HIV/AIDS complications are among women, Blacks/African-Americans, residents of the US South, and individuals aged 45 years or older. HIV infection remains one of the leading causes of death among persons aged 25 years to 44 years in the United States, particularly among Blacks/African Americans.
Take the test! Encourage your friends and family to take the test! If you are HIV negative: take steps to remain negative by regularly testing for HIV/Sexually Transmitted Infections; use a condom properly, with each and every sexual encounter; and talk to your medical provider about PrEP(3) and PEP(4).
If you are an individual living with HIV, getting into care and on treatment will help you learn more about HIV and will help you make decisions to take care of your health. HIV care and treatment not only help you live longer, but they can help you live well.
Chris Wade, HIV Care Connect Project Coordinator
Illinois Public Health Association, HIV Care Connect
HIV Care Connect is a program of the Illinois Public Health Association and is funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health
1. (in 2012 Blacks represented approximately 12% of the U.S. population but accounted for 47% of all new HIV infections, and in 2011 Blacks represented approximately 43% of people living with HIV disease)
2. (Blacks accounted for 21.7% of deaths due to HIV in 2011, and the survival time after an AIDS diagnosis is lower on average than it is for most other racial/ethnic groups)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention