Spreading Awareness on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
The nation is mobilizing for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a February 7 national initiative to respond to the crisis of HIV/AIDS impacting our African-American and African-immigrant communities. The event began in 2001 as a grassroots effort by hundreds of organizations seeking to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in their communities of color. This year’s theme is, "I Am My Brother/Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS!"
"Despite making up just 13 percent of the population, African Americans bear the brunt of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S., accounting for nearly half of the estimated 1.2 million people living with the disease, nearly half of new HIV cases, and half of annual AIDS-related deaths," said President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, Phill Wilson.
Wilson and his team at the Black AIDS Institute will host events in Mississippi and Georgia, including a press conference and reception in Atlanta at 7 p.m. at the Loudermilk Event Center, 40 Courtland St. They will use the events to release "The Light at the End of the Tunnel," the latest report on the state of AIDS in Black America.
Nationwide, 38 percent of blacks between the ages of 13-24 were infected with HIV in 2010; and, male-to-male sexual contact made up 75 percent of transmission among black communities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report. In the first decade of the 21st century, cases in the state of HIV nearly tripled in young black men who have sex with men. In 2011, half of black males diagnosed with HIV were younger than 24 years of age.
While these numbers fluctuate year-to-year and state to state, complacency and misunderstanding about HIV, especially among the youth of all ethnicities and backgrounds, are barriers to awareness and education implementations across the U.S.
In an effort to raise awareness about these high rates of infection, NBHAAD is more than just a day of free, rapid HIV testing. Many cities are including community forums, candlelight vigils, art shows, theater events, film screenings, giveaways and contests.
In Los Angeles, the annual National Black HIV/STD Theatre Initiative, presented by Twinbiz, enlists playwrights and theater artists in the fight against HIV in cities across the nation. It encourages producers and others to write, read or produce at least one play a year in "Black churches, theatres, youth and senior centers, colleges, universities, prisons and living rooms across America until this preventable disease, where Blacks account for almost half the nation’s new infection rates, is eradicated."