The African American Community
HIV disproportionately affects African-Americans more than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. Representing about 12% of the U.S. population, African-Americans now make up almost half of the total reported HIV cases in the country according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since the initial reporting of HIV began.
Although there has been a recent drop in HIV diagnoses across every population group in the United States, African-Americans are significantly more likely to contract the disease. At the end of 2014, 471,500 African-Americans were living with HIV which encompasses 43% of everyone living with HIV in the U.S.. In 2016, African-Americans represented 44% (17,528) of newly diagnosed infections. Among that group, more than half (58%, 10,223) of African-Americans diagnosed with HIV were men that have sex with men (MSM).
Of the total population of women living with diagnosed HIV at the end of 2014, 60% (139,058) were African-American. During the time period from 2005 to 2014, new HIV diagnoses among African-American women fell 42% but are still significantly higher compared to other races and ethnicities
The disproportion is not just prominent among adults but affects infants and children as well. In 2016, 64 (65%) of the estimated 99 infants perinatally (surrounding the time of birth) infected with HIV were African-American. Of the 38 US children younger than 13 who received new AIDS diagnoses, 25 (66%) were AfricanAmerican indicating that African-American children are three times (.3 per 100,000 children) more likely to be diagnosed with AIDS than the total population (.1 per 100,000 children).
So why does HIV strike the African American community so disproportionately? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) theorizes the following:
Awareness of HIV status and late diagnosis.
Prevalence within the community.
Socioeconomic contributing factors.
Discrimination and stigma.
You Can Help
What is different though, because you live in a community that has such a high incidence of HIV, is the level of awareness that you need to have.
For starters, your awareness needs to begin with you. If you are HIV-positive, let your partner(s) know. If you haven't been tested and think you might be at risk - no question - get tested. If you have a partner, get tested with him or her. Doing that gives you peace of mind of your partner's status too.
Educate not only yourself but close friends and family members who might not be as careful and knowledgeable as you and may also be at a higher risk.
Getting tested and being educated can help stop the spread of HIV to you and can also mean you not spreading it to others.
African Americans are able to access the help and resources available to anyone with HIV, like the Ryan White Care Act ( see https://hab.hrsa.gov/), but if you would like to seek out programs, services and information that is more specifically geared toward the African American community, here are some ideas of where to start:
-Begin with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.CDC.gov. For HIV in general go to www.cdc.gov/hiv/. For information specific to the African American community, go to www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/racialethnic/aa/index.html. There you'll have access to podcasts, factsheets, funding information, statistics and much more.
-The Black AIDS Institute. 1833 West 8th Street #200; Los Angeles, CA 90057-4920; 213-353-3610; www.blackaids.org
-National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. 215 W. 125th Street; Suite 2; New York, NY 10027; 212-614-0023; www.nblca.org
-National Minority AIDS Council. 1000 Vermont Ave., NW; Suite 200; Washington, DC 20005; 202-870-0918; www.nmac.org
-Contact your State or local HIV hotline. Try other sources for information first (if a non-emergency) but sometimes hotlines will have local information and sources specific to the African American community.
-The Black Church and HIV (NAACP). 410-580-5777;
Copyright 2018, Positive Health Publications, Inc.
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