Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). Observed each year on February 7th, NBHAAD serves as an opportunity to highlight the need for increased HIV education, testing, community involvement and treatment in Black/African-American communities.
This year’s NBHAAD theme, “Together for Love: Stop HIV Stigma”, highlights the messages of the Act Against AIDS, Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign. Let’s Stop HIV Together raises awareness that we all have a role to play in stopping HIV stigma. HIV continues to impact the health and well-being of the Black/African-American men and women across the United States.
According to the CDC, Black/African-Americans continue to shoulder most of the HIV and AIDS burden of any ethnic group in the nation. The good news is that focused prevention efforts among African Americans has led to decreases among African-American women and a stabilization of HIV diagnoses among African-American gay and bisexual men between. However, there is still remaining work to be done among young (18-29) African-American men as they account for more new diagnoses than any other ethnic group.
HIV risk does not happen in a vacuum; people’s lives are more than their sexual behavior. We must have frank conversations about the drivers of the HIV epidemic, which include racism, discrimination, stigma, lack of health insurance, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, substance use and the role that they play in furthering the epidemic in the African-American community.
We must ensure that the new paradigms of treatment as prevention; regular HIV testing; regular STD screening/treatment; effective linkage to medical care for those who are test HIV positive; re-engagement into medical care for HIV positive individuals who have fallen out of care and PrEP/PEP are implemented and maximized in African-American community.
Here at MASS we are actively engaging in efforts to address HIV in the local African-American community. We offer a number of prevention programs targeting those in the Newport News community most at risk. We offer HIV testing and STD screening and treatment services, PrEP/PEP and medical care for those living with HIV. We remain committed to doing our part to address HIV in the African-American community.