Three out of four Americans living with HIV/AIDS do not have their infection under control, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black men who have sex with men continue to be the demographic hardest hit by the virus—new infections are rising at an "alarming" rate—and the vast majority are unaware of their status.
To reverse the trend and increase HIV testing rates among Black MSM, CDC launched the new national awareness campaign Testing Makes Us Stronger. The advertising and social marketing campaign debuted this week on Rod 2.0 and VIBE. It rolls out on December 1 in other media. There is also a Facebook platform.
From our two-part web and print series "Reversing the Alarming HIV Increase Among Black Gay Men" for the Black AIDS Institute:
The program will include transit, magazine and online advertising--and outreach across Facebook, Twitter, blogs and "hookup" websites popular with Black MSM. "The young men we are targeting are on these sites," says Daniel Driffin, a 25-year-old prevention specialist at the Atlanta-based National AIDS & Education Services for Minorities. "It makes perfect sense for [the] CDC to be there--especially because the first place many men [my age] get information is [the] Internet."
Kali Lindsey, the 30-year-old senior director of federal policy at Harlem United, was part of a CDC advisory group on the messaging. "The process was refreshing. They brought in about 19 or 20 of us who had expertise in delivering messages to Black gay men," he says.
The campaign follows the release of disturbing HIV seroconversion data. New HIV cases among Black gay and bisexual men aged 13-29 rose an estimated 48 percent between 2006-2009, reports CDC. New infections rates are much higher in some cities—such as Milwaukee, where an estimated 42 percent of Black gay/bi men could be infected.
Black MSM are also least likely to be aware of their infection. More than 70 percent of all positive Black MSM under 30-years-old are unaware.
Experts estimate that African Americans make up 56 percent of all "late testers"—people who learn of their positive HIV serostatus so far along in their illness that the disease progresses to AIDS within one year of diagnosis. Of the 20% of HIV positive people in the US who unaware of their status, how many are Black?
Also worth noting: The past two years have seen an aggressive push by state, local and federal agencies to increase HIV testing—especially in Black/Latino communities. Increased testing usually translates into more diagnoses—but who will pay for the expensive life-saving medications?
The rise in new infections and the recession has forced many states to make significant reductions to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Those in the program are disproportionately black, many of the men are gay or bisexual.
Know your status? Find out HERE
Make Sure You Read ...
"Alarming Increase" in HIV Among Young Black Gay/Bi Men
Early HIV Drug Therapy 'Significantly Reduces' Transmission"
"Reversing the Alarming HIV Increase" and "Part 2"
"What PrEP Could Mean for Black Gay and Bi Men."