“We recently expanded a multimillion dollar testing initiative to reach more African Americans to offer HIV testing,” Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said in a statement released Tuesday.
“And through CDC’s national communications campaign, Act Against AIDS, we are raising awareness and increasing HIV testing among African Americans, including those communities hardest hit by the disease.
“This is encouraging progress, but we can and must do even more.”
Mermin said other factors include: stigma and homophobia, which may prevent many from seeking HIV prevention; economic barriers and lack of insurance, which can limit access to HIV testing, treatment, and care; higher rates of incarceration among African American men, which can disrupt the stability of social and sexual networks in the broader community and decrease the number of available partners for women, helping to fuel the spread of HIV; and higher rates of other sexually transmitted infections, which can facilitate HIV acquisition and transmission.
The CDC urges those who are sexually active to use condoms consistently and correctly, that intravenous drug users use clean needles and never share them and everyone should be tested to know their HIV status and should not hesitate to ask a partner for his or her status or offer to go with the partner to be tested and be retested if and when they change partners.
Health experts also urge people to ask their physicians to include an HIV test as part of their routine annual exam.
Those who have HIV should get in and stay in treatment and take precautions to prevent transmitting HIV to their partners.
To find a testing site near you, call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636), visit the National HIV and STD Testing Resources website, or, on your cell phone, text your ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948).
McCree also said education and open discussion about HIV/AIDS are critical to improving health outcomes.
“Talking openly about it is the only way to really bring it to every aspect of our lives, with our children, peers, partners and getting the media to focus on this issue. We have to create safe spaces to really talk about it,” McCree said.
“As I always say, each of us has the power to make the difference.”