Today, HRC released a new comprehensive guide for Historically Black College and University (HBCU) administrators, staff and students outlining many of the critical steps higher educational institutions can take to help achieve an HIV-free generation.
Published by the HRC Foundation’s HIV & Health Equity Project, this guide was shared exclusively last week at the HRC Foundation’s second HBCU Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Briefing for University Presidents and Senior Executives, the largest-ever gathering of HBCU presidents discussing LGBTQ inclusive practices and policies.
“In the fight to end HIV and AIDS, we must ensure our work touches every college and university campus -- and especially those primarily serving Black college-aged students, who are disproportionately impacted by the epidemic,” said Leslie Hall, Associate Director of the HRC Foundation HBCU Program. “This new guide, shared last week with HBCU leaders, will help these institutions provide equitable treatment, expand access to care and offer educational resources for people living with HIV and LGBTQ students.”
“Ending the HIV epidemic is a battle HRC is committed to fighting, and engaging campus administrators is critical to our efforts,” said Ashland Johnson, HRC’s Director of Public Education and Research. “This guide empowers them with information about ways they can immediately intervene and take action.”
Despite declining HIV infection rates in the U.S., college-aged and Black Americans continue to be at a higher risk of acquiring HIV than the general population. In 2015, youth and young adults ages 13- to 24-years-old represented more than one in five new HIV diagnoses in America. Eighty percent of those diagnoses occurred in people ages 20- to 24-years-old. Among youth diagnosed with HIV in 2015, 55 percent were gay or bisexual Black men.
And, shockingly, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 51 percent of young people living with HIV do not know their status, in large part due to inadequate HIV educational resources for young people.
As a group, college students experience heightened risk factors that can lead to contracting HIV, including engaging in high-risk sexual behavior and experimenting with drugs or alcohol. Yet the CDC reports that that between 2000 and 2014 the percentage of schools in which students are required to receive instruction on HIV prevention actually decreased from 64 percent to 41 percent.
The guide’s recommendations to assist colleges and universities in reversing these troubling realities include developing and implementing formal HIV-inclusive policies; decreasing stigma and discrimination for people living with HIV; promoting comprehensive and LGBTQ-inclusive sexual health education on campus; and identifying and collaborating with campus and community partners.