We are proud to join our voices with those leading the effort to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout all communities but every February 7th we commemorate a group that has been disproportionately affected by this disease. The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) is one of the foremost leaders in the education, support, and advocacy for minorities and all people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS. The following is an excerpt from their statement about this years National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day:
Held each year on February 7, NBHAAD seeks to increase awareness, participation and support for HIV prevention, care and treatment among African Americans.
“This year, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is taking place just two weeks after we honored the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. In his honor, this day should serve as a clarion call to those in power that the continued disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS in Black communities in unacceptable,” says Paul A. Kawata, Executive Director of NMAC. “Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all new HIV infections are occurring among African Americans. If left unchecked, this epidemic threatens the very future of Black communities nationwide. This is an unconscionable state of affairs in the United States.”
The statistics further support these fears. African Americans are infected with, and die from, HIV/AIDS more than any other racial or ethnic group, though they represent only 13% of the U.S. population. African American adults and adolescents are diagnosed with AIDS at 10 times the rate of whites, and nearly 3 times the rate of Latinos. Black men who have sex with men (MSM) and African American women have been particularly hard hit by HIV/AIDS. A CDC study of MSM found that 46% of the black MSM tested for HIV were positive, compared to 21% of the white MSM and 17% of the Hispanic MSM. Among African American women, AIDS has become one of the leading causes of death, leaving behind daughters, mothers, and generations that will never see a future.
Over 200,000 African Americans have died of AIDS in the past twenty five years.
These staggering statistics of course beg the question: Why are African Americans so disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS? Ethnicity, of course, is not a risk factor for HIV/AIDS; however, the social, economic, educational and political disenfranchisement experienced by many African Americans nationwide fuel HIV infections in black communities.
For more information about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day or the National Minority AIDS Council please visit www.nmac.org