Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and it started as a grass roots effort with hundreds of organizations registering events and/or activities to raise the awareness of HIV and AIDS in Black communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans have the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States–making up an alarming 47 percent of all new HIV infections in the United States. That’s almost half! 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.
We have to get tested, know our status and protect ourselves. But here is one bittersweet statistic: new HIV infections among Black women have declined in recent years, however in 2011, 64 percent of women diagnosed with HIV were Black. There’s no denying that the numbers are never in our favor when it comes to HIV/AIDS.
Black women aren’t the only sad statistics in HIV/AIDS. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black gay men, transgender individuals, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to experience shocking increases in HIV incidence each year, particularly among those aged 13–24 (up nearly 21 percent since 2008).
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was conceived by five national organizations funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1999 to provide capacity building assistance to Black communities and organizations. The mobilization of communities begin in 2000 with these organizations: Concerned Black Men, Inc. of Philadelphia; Health Watch Information and Promotion Services, Inc.; Jackson State University – Mississippi Urban Research Center; National Black Alcoholism and Addictions Council; and National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.