National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is observed on February 7th to raise awareness of the impact of HIV on the African American community. Although progress has been made in reducing HIV rates within Black communities, barriers such as racism, discrimination, and mistrust of the healthcare system may still make it difficult for people to access HIV prevention services and participate in HIV treatment and care.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African Americans accounted for 43% of new HIV diagnoses in 2019, despite making up only 13% of the U.S. population. To combat HIV and other health risks, it is important to provide access to stable housing, transportation, job opportunities, and equal healthcare.
How to Prevent and Manage HIV
Major reasons for this inequality are the high poverty rate and lack of access to healthcare in many African American communities. Stigma and discrimination can also make it difficult for African Americans to get tested and access treatment for HIV. However, some steps can be taken to prevent and manage HIV in the African American community.
- Get tested for HIV. The CDC recommends that everyone ages 13 to 64 get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime, and more frequently for those at higher risk. This includes anyone who has unprotected sex, shares needles, or has a partner living with HIV.
- Choose less risky sexual behaviors. HIV is mainly spread by having anal or vaginal sex without a condom or without taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV.
- Practice safer sex. Condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), like gonorrhea and chlamydia.
- Get tested and treated for STDs. Insist that your partners get tested and treated, too. Having an STD can increase your risk of getting HIV or spreading it to others.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is an HIV prevention option for people who do not have HIV but are at risk of getting HIV. PrEP involves taking a specific HIV medicine every day to reduce the risk of getting HIV through sex or injection drug use.
- Do not inject drugs. But if you do, use only sterile drug injection equipment and water, and never share your equipment with others.
Overcoming Challenges to HIV Prevention, Treatment, and More
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day serves as a reminder of the significant impact of HIV on the African American community and the importance of taking steps to prevent and manage the virus. When we work to overcome challenges to HIV testing, prevention, and treatment and stop HIV stigma, we help reduce HIV-related disparities and health inequities in Black communities.
To learn more about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and find resources on HIV testing, prevention, and treatment research, visit HIV.gov NHBAAD.
For a free, confidential HIV test or to learn about HIV prevention options like PrEP, contact HOPE Clinic at (205) 758-2644.