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Today (Feb. 7) is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which stands as an important reminder about ongoing health disparities related to African American men and women at risk for HIV/AIDS in our country.
In NYC, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Health Fair, sponsored by BrightPoint Health, is holding a health fair at 459 E. 149th Street, Bronx, NY 10455 . with experts from the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), the largest not-for-profit home- and community-based health care organization in the U.S. They will speak about public health measures that are being taken to reach those members in the community who are at increased risk but without awareness and access to care—or are “lost to care.”
Despite advancements in medicine and treatment of HIV/AIDS, such as PrEP, many African Americans with HIV still receive too little care and are fail to achieve and maintain a suppressed viral load. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that for every 100 African Americans with HIV in 2016, 61% received some HIV care, 47% were retained in care, and 48% were virally suppressed. These numbers are staggering considering African Americans comprise 13% of the nation’s total population. In order to help spread awareness, the black community must overcome challenges associated with the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
These factors may explain why African Americans have worse outcomes when it comes to receiving HIV care, which includes lower rates of viral suppression. A few challenges African Americans face include:
- One in seven African Americans with HIV are unaware they have it. People who don’t know they have HIV cannot take advantage of HIV care and treatment and may unknowingly pass HIV to others.
- The poverty rate is higher among African Americans than other racial/ethnic groups, meaning limited access to high-quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education.
- Stigma, fear, discrimination and homophobia continue to place many African Americans (of all ages) at higher risk for HIV.