National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) was established on February 7, 1999, when there were over 33 million cases of the disease worldwide and it was ranked as the fourth-deadliest killer by the World Health Organization. Black Americans’ rates were 66 per 100,000 people, which was more than eight times higher than the rate for white Americans. Though the overall outlook has improved since then, the statistics for the Black community have remained alarmingly high. MCR wants to bring attention to the progress made by the black community while also addressing the stigma and racism surrounding these diseases.
In terms of reducing HIV, black communities have made a lot of progress. Still, racism, discrimination, and lack of trust in the health care system can make it harder for Black people to get HIV prevention services or to seek them out. People may also be less likely to get treatment and care for HIV because of these problems. To keep lowering the risk of HIV and other health problems, people need decent housing and transportation, jobs, access to culturally sensitive health services that are free from stigma and discrimination, and more. NBHAAD is a chance to learn more about HIV, talk about getting tested, involve your community, and get more people in Black communities treated.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that in 2020, Black Americans made up about 12 percent of the population but had 12,827 of the 30,635 new HIV diagnoses in the United States. The department went on to say that Black gay and bisexual men are currently the most affected by HIV, accounting for 65 percent (8,294) of new HIV diagnoses among Black/African Americans.
Even though those numbers are high, there is hope in the fact that the rate of the disease being passed from mother to child has dropped by 95% since the 1990s. Also good news is the number of cases that no longer end in death, as well as the growing number of people in the Black community who test positive but can no longer spread the disease. These people are “virally suppressed” and can continue to live healthy lives.
HIV/AIDS Challenges Facing Black Communities
In Black/African American communities, there are a lot of people living with HIV. Black/African Americans tend to have sex with people of the same race/ethnicity, so each sexual encounter puts them at a higher risk of infection.
Sexually transmitted diseases, not knowing if you have HIV, and your financial situation all play a role in health disparities.
HIV/AIDS also has a major impact on Black/African American gay and bisexual men.
Many Black/African Americans who are HIV-positive fear discrimination and rejection more than they fear contracting the virus, so they may choose not to be tested.
These differences are not just caused by HIV. Instead, they are just a small part of the many health and economic problems that Black Americans face. NBHAAD is a chance to move forward a national conversation about how social determinants of health and racial inequities have made Black communities bear a disproportionate share of the HIV burden. For example:
- In 2020, 19.5% of Black Americans were living in poverty, compared to 11% of the total U.S. population.
- In 2020, black families were twice as likely as white families to be food insecure.
- COVID-19 data from the CDC shows that hospitalization and death rates for Black people in the US are higher than for non-Hispanic White people.
HIV/AIDS also affects Black/African American transgender men and women more than white transgender men and women, but this isn’t always reflected in the data because it’s hard to get accurate and inclusive data. From 2009 to 2014, more than half of all transgender people who got a new HIV diagnosis were Black trans men and women, according to the CDC.
This NBHAAD, we need to look at these deep, systemic injustices and do something about them if we want to end the HIV epidemic among Black Americans.
How to Observe NBHAAD
“Together…We Can Make HIV Black History!” is this year’s theme. The best way to solve any problem that affects our communities is to work together. Here are some things you can do to raise awareness and help prevent these diseases:
1. Get tested
On the first day of the NAACP convention in July 2006, Chairman Julian Bond took a public HIV test. This sent a message to the black community about how important it is to get tested. If you’ve never been tested, you should follow their example and decide to take this step. You can buy a home test kit online or at a pharmacy. While you’re at it, test for other diseases that can be spread through sexual contact.
2. Always use a condom
No matter what your sexual orientation is, taking risks like having sex without protection is one of the biggest ways HIV/AIDS can spread.
3. Remember a loved one
It’s a time to think about people who have HIV or AIDS, especially those who have died from the disease. Attend a candlelight vigil or program at a community center. Put fresh flowers on the grave of someone who may have died from HIV/AIDS. Or, you can sit quietly and think about the good times you had with the friend, partner, spouse, or relative you lost to one of these diseases.
Why is NBHAAD Important?
1. It’s part of an effective grassroots effort
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) is part of a large effort to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Black/African American community, and by all accounts, it’s working. Even though there have been more efforts to educate, test, and treat people, the CDC says that 471,500 Black/African Americans are still living with HIV. The number of new cases, on the other hand, is decreasing or stabilizing. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is still important after 24 years of consistent grassroots efforts to build partnerships for funding research. It keeps the conversation going not only in the Black community but in all communities.
2. You can be easily infected
In 2020, 65% of people who got HIV were Black/African-American, even though they made up only about 12% of the US population. Sharing needles and syringes or having unprotected sex with someone who has HIV are the two main ways the virus is spread. Knowing how quickly the illness can strike can save your life. Many may not even know they are infected, and you can have HIV for years without knowing it.
3. Black/African American women struggle with HIV/AIDS
More education and better health care have helped Black/African American women fight HIV/AIDS. But in 2016, the CDC said that over 7,000 women were newly diagnosed. Many of these women got HIV from heterosexual contact, because women who are married or in other monogamous relationships may feel “safe” not using condoms.
MCR’s Commitment to the Fight
Even though awareness and treatment have come a long way, HIV/AIDS is still a big problem in the Black/African American community. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) gives Black/African American people the latest information on the fight against the virus and the disease. Every February 7, NBHAAD features inspirational stories of survivors, tips on how to live a healthier, more positive lifestyle, and information on the most recent innovations in education and treatment. NBHAAD celebrates the strong, hopeful, and resilient spirit of the black community, and MCR Health is here to offer support and compassionate care.
MCR Health understands how sensitive infectious diseases are and the stigmas that come with them. Our patients get testing and medical case management that are kept private to protect their dignity and privacy. Our specialists are kind, caring people who want to help their patients in any way they can. Our services include counseling for mental health, HIV/AIDS education and risk counseling, nutrition therapy, and personal services like helping people with HIV/AIDS find emergency housing. Here are just a few of the services we offer to the community:
● Confidential Testing
● Emergency Housing Assistance for Persons with HIV/AIDS
● Hepatitis C Testing and Treatment
● HIV Prevention and Treatment
Together, when we work to get rid of structural barriers to HIV testing, prevention, and treatment and to stop HIV stigma, we help reduce HIV-related disparities and health inequalities in the Black/African American community. Contact us today if you have any questions about HIV/AIDS or want to set up your confidential screening.