The day exists to raise awareness about the impact of the disease in the Black Community, with a goal of mobilizing African Americans to get educated, get involved and tested, and if applicable, get treatment for HIV/AIDS. The disease is affecting our community at higher rates and more severely than any other ethnic group.
Snapshot of HIV/AIDS and Black America:
- African Americans are only 12 percent of the United States population, but account for almost half of all new HIV/AIDS infections.
- Since the epidemic started, almost 590,000 people have died from related complications in the U.S. 40% of them were Black.
- Rate of AIDS diagnosis for Black women is approximately 23 times the rate for white women and 4 times the rate for Latina women
- Black teens (ages 13–19) represent only 15 percent of all teenagers in the United States but are 68% of new AIDS cases among teens
In addition to this, it’s been proven that Black people with HIV live shorter lives than people of other ethnic backgrounds who are infected.
For these reasons and countless more, it’s important for us to stand strong against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Black community. Prevention of the disease is priority, and efforts are affected by many factors:
- Poverty – A quarter of African Americans live at or below the poverty level. This causes a lack of access to good healthcare, which then puts people’s well-being at risk.
- Stigma – The stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in the Black community prevents openness and drives people to keep their statuses under wraps. For others, stigma and fear keeps them from even getting tested.
- Sexually transmitted diseases – Already having certain STDs increases one’s susceptibility to contracting HIV. African Americans are 18 times more likely than whites to have gonorrhea.
- Drug use – The injection of drugs is the second leading cause of HIV infection in Black Americans. Also, being under the influence of drugs make people more likely to engage in risky behavior like unprotected sex.
The fight against HIV/AIDS in the Black community must continue. Not just on February 7th, but every day. As Phill Wilson of the Black AIDS Institute said, “Black Americans are greater than AIDS.”
Get educated. Get tested. Get Involved. Get treated.