Today is the 15th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). Some facts included in a letter from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Act Against AIDS Campaign are as follows:
Blacks/African Americans make up just 12% of the US population, but bear the greatest burden of HIV of all races/ethnicities in the United States. Blacks/African Americans account for more new HIV infections (44%), people living with HIV (43%), and deaths of persons with diagnosed HIV infection (48%) than any other racial/ethnic group in the nation. Among black/African Americans, gay and bisexual men, especially young men, are the most affected population—accounting for the majority of new infections.
Despite these figures, the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, shows that mortality rates and HIV testing rates for black/African Americans have shown encouraging signs of progress:
- From 2008 to 2012, the death rate per 1,000 black/African Americans living with HIV declined 28%—more than the overall decline of 22% seen among all people living with HIV.
- A national survey indicates that the percentage of black/African Americans who had ever been tested for HIV increased from 57% during 2003–2006 to 64% during 2007–2010, and was highest among black/African Americans during both time periods compared to other racial/ethnic groups. This may partially be due to the fact that in 2013, 45% of the 3.3 million CDC-funded HIV tests were provided to black/African Americans.
Building on this progress is critical. Reducing the disproportionate rate of HIV among black/African American communities requires confronting and understanding the wide range of social, economic, epidemiologic, and environmental factors that can increase the risk for HIV infection. Factors such as stigma, discrimination, homophobia, awareness of HIV status, HIV and STD prevalence rates, and access to quality health care, can directly and indirectly influence the risk for HIV and survival.
Diagnosing and keeping people in HIV medical care are key strategies for maintaining the health of people living with HIV and preventing new infections. For these reasons, CDC focuses national efforts on helping black/African American gay and bisexual men, heterosexual men and women, youth, and transgender persons, learn their HIV status and link those who are living with HIV to care services. One example is Partnerships for Care, through which CDC and other Federal partners work with health departments and health centers to increase the identification of undiagnosed HIV infections, establish new access points for HIV care and treatment, and improve HIV outcomes along the continuum of care for people living with HIV, especially among black/African American communities. In addition, CDC also funds health departments and community-based organizations to provide HIV prevention services, including HIV testing, condom distribution, and linkage to care.
CDC is committed to addressing HIV in black/African American communities. Through a series of Act Against AIDS communication campaigns, we seek to increase basic knowledge and promote HIV testing and treatment. Campaigns such as Take Charge. Take the Test. encourage black/African American women to get tested for HIV, and Testing Makes Us Stronger aims to increase HIV testing among black/African American gay and bisexual men. Prevention is Care, a campaign for health care providers, offers tools to help patients with HIV stay in medical care, and HIV Treatment Works is a new campaign for consumers that emphasizes the importance of HIV medical care.