The Work Continues on Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
February 5, 2010
Sunday is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and we take this opportunity to highlight the ongoing efforts to fight the epidemic in one of the populations most affected by it, the African American community -- including gay and bisexual men of color -- and recognize how much more still must be done. On the national level as we reported earlier this week, the President’s Budget provides more dollars for HIV prevention, including for minority HIV/AIDS initiatives and a new program focused on men who have sex with men, and continues the Act Against AIDS program targeting the African American community. And here in D.C., the Department of Health is making strides to address the alarmingly high rates of HIV and AIDS. Dr. Sharon Hader writes about ongoing efforts to fight the epidemic in the African American community here in DC through the “DC Takes on HIV” campaign: Our Work Continues On This Special Day In Washington, DC, every day is National Black HIV Awareness Day. Our Mayor and City Council have made HIV/AIDS the number one public health priority. As a city, we are committed to reduce the burden of HIV on our residents by making HIV testing a routine part of everyone’s health care, linking people into early treatment to live long lives and promoting condoms and other prevention to stop HIV in its tracks. We are taking on HIV in DC. Commemorating National Black HIV Awareness Day is important to remember the past sacrifice of many so we can do something today for the future. It gives us the opportunity to rededicate ourselves. We must discard the stigma and silence that has recruited more HIV in the African American community. Instead, we must open our hearts and raise our voices. Speaking out loud with facts dispels the myths and moves HIV out of the whispers and shadows into clear light. The more we know, the better we can act to safeguard our health. Over 4% of black DC residents are already diagnosed and living with HIV. Among black men, the number is even higher at nearly 7%. HIV is not a young person’s disease in DC where 80% of African Americans with HIV are between 30 and 60 years old. Neither age nor relationship status gives anyone automatic protection. DC encourages all residents to ask: (1) do we know our HIV status? (2) is it just the two of us in the relationship? (3) do we use condoms? When we all work together as individuals, as government, as communities, we can have an impact on this epidemic. We’re already making headway. We doubled the number of people tested with public support. We doubled the number of people receiving free HIV medications. We distributed 3.4 million free condoms. More people are being tested earlier and their health is better. And for our young people, we can start now to protect them so they never have to get HIV. This year marks the 10th year of National Black HIV Awareness Day. The theme – Get Educated, Get Involved, Get Tested, Get Treated – is timeless. DC is taking on HIV in 2010 and until we end HIV.