HIV/AIDS is still a serious African American – and Hispanic – health problem on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, February 7th, 2016.
There was a time when it was taboo to talk about HIV and AIDS, and after huge strides made by activism and medical advancement over the past two decades, it’s almost as if we are returning to those days of silence. That’s unfortunate because regarding HIV/AIDS, prevention is much better since there is no cure.
Even with the gains in treatment, and slowing of the spread of the disease, now is not the time to stop discussing it and fighting to end it. HIV/AIDS is still at epidemic levels for African Americans – especially men who have sex with men (MSM), and then African American women. In fact, African American MSM have the highest rate of new HIV cases among all men. And, the rate of infection for Hispanics is climbing steadily at an alarming rate.
Key CDC findings by race and ethnicity in 2012 showed how serious the problem still is in African Americans, Hispanics, and other key races and ethnicities.
The No. of HIV Diagnoses (according to CDC) as a Percent of Total HIV Diagnoses as an estimated Percent of the US Population by race and ethnicity (according to the US Census Bureau) in 2012 was as follows:
% US Race/Ethnicity % HIV Diagnoses % US Population
American Indian <1% 0.2%
Asian/PI 2% 5,5%
Black 47% 13.2%
Hispanic 20% 17.1%
White 28% 62.6%
Multiple 2% ?
Total 99% 98.6%
Clearly, minority populations need to give special attention to HIV/AIDS Prevention, Early Detection and Treatment by pledging to do the following three things:
1. Get Tested! There are 1.2 million in America living with HIV, with approximately 1 in 8 of them being unaware that they are infected. Early treatment of the disease can mean fewer symptoms and life interruptions. Find a local health center or other health source to schedule a confidential HIV test for you and your partner.
2. Keep talking about HIV/AIDS prevention. BEFORE you become intimate, discuss with your partner your HIV/AIDS status, you both getting tested and how to engage in safer sex. Also start discussions with friends, neighbors and church members about the fact that HIV/AIDS is still a serious problem and now is not the time to stop fighting it.
3. Make a personal effort to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. You can lower the risk of getting or spreading the disease by using condoms each time you have sex, limiting your number of sex partners and not injecting drugs, or having sex with anyone known or suspected to use drugs. Use these basic steps to aid in prevention.
Why HIV/AIDS in Minorities/Multicultural Populations Still Needs Special Attention and Effort
- The cost of treating AIDS is still high although it is no longer a fatal disease. Therefore, a sustained focus on HIV prevention continues to be a high priority, especially in those populations and groups most affected.
- The intermittent illnesses and multiple demands of treatment can, for some, interfere with productivity in the workplace, whose overall composition is increasingly consists of minorities.
- While treatment with multiple drug therapy has changed AIDS from a fatal illness to a chronic disease, the financial and other treatment related costs are very high, just as with other serious chronic diseases.
Remember that prevention of HIV should be the goal, because there’s still no cure for AIDS, which kills nearly 14,000 people in the US each year.
Through action now, we can all help to ensure an end to HIV/AIDS much sooner.
Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power! ®