HIV is a crisis in African-American communities that continues to threaten the health and well-being of Black men and women across the United States. Further, the community faces the most severe burden of HIV and AIDS than any racial/ethnic group in the nation.
As a grim reminder of these unvarnished facts, Feb. 7 marks the observance of the 14th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day designed to remind Americans that HIV remains a critical public health concern in African-American communities more than thirty years after the first AIDS cases were identified.
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data released Thursday showing that additional efforts are needed to ensure that individuals who are infected with HIV receive the care and treatment they need.
“The day provides an important opportunity to talk about testing in our community,” Dr. Donna Hubbard McCree, associate director for health equity at the division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the CDC told NewsOne. “And also it’s a community mobilization initiative. It’s really about getting the message out. ‘I am my brother or sister’s keeper’ was the original theme, but the real specific focal points are around getting educated, tested and getting treatment. It’s a way to keep the conversation about HIV and the affect that it’s having in African-American communities on the table.”
These are the facts: African Americans now bear the greatest burden of HIV in the United States, accounting for nearly half of the more than 1.1 million Americans living with HIV and nearly half of those who have died with AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic, the CDC says.
Among African Americans, just as in other racial and ethnic groups, gay and bisexual men, especially young men, are the most impacted population, accounting for the majority of new infections. African-American women also bear a large, disproportionate burden, with almost two-thirds of new infections in 2010 among women occurring among Black women.