Next month, on February 7th, the nation will observe National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Over the years, we have seen significant progress in the United States when it comes to the fight against the virus that causes AIDS. However, despite such progress, much work still needs to be done – especially in the Black community.
For instance, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Black Americans have a lower incidence of suppression of HIV compared to some other groups. While it may be surprising to hear, it should not shock us considering that only 8% of eligible Black Americans are prescribed the daily pill used to prevent HIV infection, otherwise known as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).
Further, the Black community in this country is, according to the CDC, disproportionately affected by other common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and syphilis. The presence of STIs often makes it easier to acquire HIV than if they are absent from a person.
Finally, the CDC reports that there is a general distrust of the healthcare system by African Americans which can cause the rates of HIV infection to increase among members of this community. Still, other determinants like poverty, racism, and food insecurity are significant factors when it comes to explaining why the Black community is disproportionately affected by HIV.
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on February 7th is a great time for each of us to learn about these facts and to draw attention and awareness to them so that we may ultimately work together to end the HIV crisis that exists for members of Black America.