Dear Colleague Letter: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), a time to increase awareness of and focus our attention on the critical challenges of HIV among African Americans in the United States and to direct renewed energy toward solutions that address the root causes of this problem. The theme for this observance day, I Am My Brother/Sister's Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS!, holds much significance as we reflect on opportunities to end the spread of HIV in the United States.
African Americans are affected by HIV more severely than any other racial/ethnic group in the United States. For example,
- In 2010, despite representing only 14% of the U.S. population, African Americans accounted for 44% of all new HIV infections.
- Compared with other races and ethnicities, African Americans account for a higher proportion of HIV infections at all stages of disease -- from new infections to deaths.
- Young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (referred to as MSM) are the most affected group among African Americans, and 54% of new infections among MSM were in African Americans.
There is cause for optimism, however; recent HIV incidence data indicate that black women experienced a decline in new HIV infections from 2008 through 2010. We are hopeful that our intensified efforts in recent years to increase awareness of HIV and mobilize African American leaders are helping African American women to take steps to avoid acquiring or transmitting HIV. Still, black women remain one of the most severely affected populations, and more work must be done.
Research shows that individual risk behaviors alone do not account for the disproportionate rates of HIV among African Americans. A myriad of social and economic factors -- such as stigma, discrimination, homophobia, lack of awareness of status, higher prevalence rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and limited access to and use of quality health care -- can directly and indirectly increase the risk for HIV infection among African Americans and affect the health of people living with HIV.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remains committed to addressing HIV in black communities. The agency's High-Impact Prevention approach emphasizes using scientifically proven interventions in the populations at greatest risk, in the communities where they live. For example,
- The MSM Testing Initiative is a new CDC-funded project to identify at least 3,000 HIV-infected MSM who were previously unaware of their infection (at least half of whom are black or Latino) and to link 85% of them to medical care.
- In 2012, CDC issued, through the Secretary of Health and Human Services' Minority AIDS Initiative, Care and Prevention in the U.S. (CAPUS) awards totaling $14 million (year one) for HIV prevention activities in eight states with a high burden of HIV among African Americans or Latinos.
- Campaigns for CDC's Act Against AIDS (AAA) initiative deliver messages about HIV infection for African Americans; for example,
- Take Charge. Take the Test. encourages African American women to get tested for HIV.
- Testing Makes Us Stronger is aimed at increasing HIV testing among black gay and bisexual men.
- Let's Stop HIV Together, the newest AAA campaign, focuses on reducing stigma and raises general awareness about HIV.
- The Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI) is a partnership among CDC and many of the country's leading organizations that represent the populations most affected by HIV. AAALI was formed to strengthen HIV prevention efforts in black communities and then expanded to include organizations that focus on black MSM and the Latino community.
CDC has released new videos to coincide with NBHAAD 2013. Please watch these videos, link to them, add them to your website, share them on Facebook, and tweet about them.
Thank you for your continued support and commitment to HIV prevention.