How education and awareness have made progress in the U.S.
There is an opportunity on February 7, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, to increase awareness, spark conversations and highlight the work being done to reduce HIV in Black communities nationwide.
Historically, Black Americans are more heavily impacted by HIV than any other community. Black men and women make up 12% of Pennsylvanians but represent 47% living with HIV in the state, according to AIDSVu.
But we can—and have—lowered these numbers.
Since the first National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in 1999, progress has been made. In fact, from 2010 to 2016, HIV diagnoses decreased 12% among blacks/African Americans overall in the U.S.
According to the Black Aids Institute, to continue this progress it is important to understand why the Black community is disproportionately impacted by HIV and to address these issues.
Studies show cultural biases like stigma, discrimination and homophobia place Black people at a higher risk for HIV, according to HIV.gov.Other barriers include:
- Not knowing your status: Without knowing they have HIV, community members cannot access treatment. Find a free testing site near you and understand everything you need to know about coverage for HIV care services.
- Social and economic issues: Limited access to high-quality health care, housing and HIV- prevention education—directly and indirectly—increases the risk for HIV and affects the health of people with and at risk for HIV, according to the CDC.
- Mistrust in the health care system: Studies show people of color face disparities in terms of morbidity, mortality and health status. The National Academy of Medicine released a report revealing, “racial and ethnic minorities receive lower-quality health care than white people—even when insurance status, income, age, and severity of conditions are comparable.”
- Higher rates of STIs/STDs among the Black community: Black men and women have higher rates of some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than other communities. The CDC says having another STD can increase a person’s chance of getting or transmitting HIV.
By raising awareness and educating people on prevention, testing and treatment, we can reduce HIV stigma. It is also important that we:
- Know how HIV is spread and debunk stereotypes and misconceptions
- Encourage everyone to practice safe sex and to get tested
- Get connected to treatment if you or a loved one has tested positive for HIV/AIDS.
The Take Control HIV community offers Pennsylvanians a combination of services, including resources and referrals to empower everyone to take control of their HIV status whether positive or negative.