National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Black men and women face a higher risk of being exposed to HIV infection
ERIE COUNTY, NY—Today is the sixteenth annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (“NBHAAD”), a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative designed to encourage Black men and women across the United States to get educated, get tested, get involved, and get treated, as HIV/AIDS continues to devastate Black communities.
Overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that African Americans represent more than one-third of all people living with HIV and almost half of all persons with newly diagnosed infection.
NBHAAD has four key focus areas which encourage people to:
- Get Educatedabout HIV and AIDS;
- Get Involvedin community prevention efforts;
- Get Testedto know their status; and
- Get Treatedto receive the continuum of care needed to live with HIV/AIDS.
Unfortunately, many of those who are infected with HIV, regardless of race or ethnicity, are unaware of their status and may unknowingly transmit the virus to others. “HIV is a crisis that threatens the health and well-being of Black men and women across the United States. It is time to talk about this devastating disease so we can make a difference in the health of Erie County’s Black community,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health (“ECDOH”).
Black men and women face a higher risk of being exposed to HIV infection than do other racial/ethnic groups. This is because the prevalence of HIV is greater in Black communities than in any other racial/ethnic group. Therefore, even with levels of individual risk behaviors that are comparable to other races/ethnicities, Black men and women face a higher risk of infection. In addition, the social and economic realities that exist in some Black communities may lead to increased HIV risk. These include poverty, racial discrimination, less access to healthcare and higher rates of incarceration, which can disrupt social networks.
Testing is at the core of this initiative and is critical for prevention of HIV in Black communities. ECDOH provides HIV testing, counseling and outreach at the Jesse Nash Health Center at 608 William Street in Buffalo. The Sexually Transmitted Disease (“STD”) Clinic can be reached at (716) 858-7687. In addition, the STD Clinic offers a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or “PrEP” program for HIV/AIDS Pre-exposure prophylaxis is a way for people who do not have HIV, but who are at substantial risk of getting it, to prevent HIV infection by taking one pill every day. When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection.
The theme of NBHAAD this year is “I am my Brother/Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS.” We encourage Erie County residents to challenge the mindset in our homes, communities, workplace, churches, mosques and temples, because everyone needs to take a stand against HIV/AIDS to end the epidemic.
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