Today is the 12th Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The day was conceived as a national platform to engage Black Americans about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our communities. Find a nearby testing location HERE.
The statistics are grim. Blacks represent only 14 percent of the U.S. population but more than 45 percent percent of all new HIV infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Blacks are disproportionately impacted more than any other racial/ethnic group across all demographics—men, women, youth, and men who have sex with men—in all stages of the disease.
Young Black MSM aged 13 and 29 have experienced the greatest increases, with new infection rates soaring by over 48 percent. See our recent print/digital series "Reversing the Alarming HIV Increase Among Black Gay Men Part 1" and "Part 2"
We are at a deciding moment in the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic; we now possess the tools we need to end the AIDS epidemic. With recent scientific breakthroughs the question is no longer "Can we end the AIDS epidemic?" The question is "Will we?" It is time for bold and radical thinking about HIV testing, treatment and prevention. The report will lay out our strategy for ending the AIDS epidemic in Black America.
While we face opportunities and challenges, it's time for all of us to come together for the common good of our community. It doesn’t matter whether you are gay or straight, male or female; live in an urban center or the rural south, whether you're a leader or someone who relishes anonymity. Our mission is to end the AIDS epidemic in Black America.
Across the Black community, educators, activists, faith, civic and political leaders are encouraging families to discuss HIV/AIDS and human sexuality. National Black Justice Coalition Executive Director Sharon Lettman-Hicks adds:
According to the CDC's most recent study, 55 percent of Black teen moms were not using birth control at the time they became pregnant. Almost one-third reported that they thought they couldn't get pregnant, and it stands to reason that they also thought they could not contract a sexually transmitted disease. Clearly, our young people are not getting the information that they need to make well-informed decisions.
Discussing human sexuality and prevention techniques is not the same as offering an endorsement of or enabling unsafe sexual behaviors. On the contrary, helping our children and church-goers protect themselves is an act of compassion and faith. As parents and clergy, it is our responsibility. We are offering a lifeline to people we love – aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, children, and friends – whom we want to keep healthy and alive, even if the choices they make about their bodies don't align with ours.
Learn. Educate. Get tested.