By Terrell Parker, NMAC Associate Program Manager
Each year, National Black HIV Awareness Day takes place on February 7 to promote HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and community involvement in black/African American communities. Around the country, advocates, community organizations, health departments, health centers, and federal partners are racing to do what was once thought as unthinkable, ending the HIV epidemic. As we work towards doing the unthinkable, one question continues fueling dialogue from the local communities to federal partners: “How do we end the epidemic in the community most burdened by the highest rates of new HIV acquisition and the community viral load; how do we end the HIV epidemic in the Black community?”
The data shows us that in 2020, Black people currently bear the heaviest burden of HIV.
- Blacks/African Americans accounted for 43% of all HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2018.
- In 2017, Black/African American women accounted for 60% of all new HIV infections in women in the USA.
- The CDC estimates that ½ Black gay and bisexual men will contract HIV within their lifetime
This year’s theme for Black HIV Awareness Day is “We’re in it Together.” We asked some of our constituents what does “We’re it together” mean to the Black community and how do we ensure that we indeed end the HIV epidemic in this community? Here are some of their responses;
“We’re in it together” means willingly working together as a beloved black community to eradicate HIV/AIDS despite cultural differences. Literally Doing it for the culture in perspective.” – Scorro “Cori” Moreland
“We’re in it together is a mantra that each one of us is needed to end this epidemic. Taking ownership of our health is vitally important for each of us to live our best lives. U=U is a communal way end it together. We ensure they Black communities have access and opportunities for equitable. Access means that resources are available. Opportunity means that they are available to me.” – Tori Cooper, AA Constituent Advisory Panel
“We’re in it together means being on the same page as a Black community, using our voices, and working together with community organizations, health departments, and health care entities to make it happen. It means bringing the people and the resources together to end HIV.” – X Advocate
As we embark on our National Black HIV Awareness Day events and work to get individuals tested, linked to care, and linked to PrEP, it’s important to remember the theme for this year. If we are going to end the HIV Epidemic, it is important that we end it together, not in silos. This will take our systems working together, our resources working together and most importantly, our people working together.