February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an opportunity to promote HIV prevention, testing, and treatment among African Americans in the United States.
BY ORLY LYONNE
> African Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that they accounted for nearly half (44%) of all new infections in 2010, despite making up only 14% of the population. This represents a rate that is eight times as high as that of whites.
Most of these infections are in African American men, most of whom are men who have sex with men (MSM). Young black MSM, in fact, account for more new infections than any other subgroup by race/ethnicity, age, and sex.
SOCIAL, ECONOMIC BARRIERS
Research shows that African Americans do not engage in riskier behavior than members of other racial/ethnic groups. However, there are many social and economic barriers that can increase the risk of HIV.
- The higher the proportion of people living with HIV in a community, the greater the risk with each new sexual encounter of having a sexual partner who has HIV.
- Higher rates of other sexually transmitted infections can increase the chance of getting and spreading HIV.
- Social and economic realities-such as poverty, racial discrimination, limited access to health care and housing, and incarceration-are associated with increased risk of HIV.
- Stigma, fear, and silence can increase the risk of HIV while decreasing the willingness to get support, get tested, and get treatment, if needed.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Learn about HIV and AIDS. Educate yourself, friends, and family about HIV and AIDS and what you can do to protect yourself.
- Get tested for HIV. 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).
- Speak out against stigma, homophobia, racism, and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS.
For more info visit the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) web site at: nationalblackaidsday.org/.