The 14th Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Debra_Fraser-HowzeBy Debra Fraser-Howze

What You Need to Know This National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

“If Black America were its own country, it would rank 16th in the world in the number of people with HIV — ahead of Ethiopia, Botswana, and Haiti.” - Black AIDS InstituteHIV and AIDS. It’s an epidemic we just can’t wish away, and it continues to be a major challenge for our community.

Let’s review the facts:

  • Approximately one in 16 black men will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime.
  • Among blacks, men account for 70 percent of new HIV infections.
  • Women account for 30 percent.
  • The HIV incidence rate for black women remains 20 times as high as that of white women, and almost five times that of Hispanic women.

Each year, February 7th presents us with a day to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS and how it affects the African American community.  The official mission of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) is to build the capacity and increase awareness, participation and support for HIV prevention, care and treatment among Black Americans.

This year marks the 14th year of this annual event.

This is not a day that belongs only to policy makers and non-profit organizations.  We can all take action to make a difference.

Get Tested.

Today there are more opportunities to be tested for HIV/AIDS than ever before.  People who prefer to be tested in a healthcare setting can visit several different locations in Harlem to take a rapid HIV test to learn their status (see http://hivtest.cdc.gov/ for hours, locations, and contact information).

Lets get local:

  • Black girls in Harlem are more likely to be infected with the HIV/AIDS virus 10 times the rate for Harlem boys (source).

Americans now also have the opportunity to test at home with the OraQuick® In-Home HIV Test.  The test is an oral swab and provides results in just 20 minutes and it is based on the same HIV test that healthcare professionals have used for years, and it can be purchased in many national drug store chains and at OraQuick.com.

Spread the Word

One of the biggest weapons we have in the fight against HIV/AIDS is open and honest dialog about our sexual health and our status.  For you, that may mean having a conversation with a medical professional or an open conversation with a loved one.  The more we keep talking, the more likely we are to address this ongoing critical health issue in our community.

Debra Y. Fraser-Howze is Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs at OraSure Technologies, Inc. and the Founder of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA), the largest and oldest nonprofit organization of its kind in the United States

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