Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is February 7th
This day is all about raising awareness about HIV and AIDS among black communities. There are 4 main things this day encourages people to do: Get educated, get tested, get involved, and get treated. These days, HIV and AIDS are much easier diseases to live with than they used to be, but early detection is still very important. Make sure you get tested and learn what else you can do to get involved in your local community!
In short most people know of HIV/AIDS-but don’t really know all the facts, or that there are also social and political stigmas that follow and the obvious, that this day is community specific.
HIV/AIDS has had a long winding road like any stigmatized epidemic. However, building awareness and advocating for something does not mean that shortcuts get taken, the subject gets glossed over or forgotten about. The requirement is hard work, large strives that are community based, and vast amounts of education to the communities and the social and political figures that are unaware.
So, for lack of a better phrase, “just keep swimming (reading)”. Be more than just a part of the movement. Be a part of the evolution.
- HIV is a virus that leads to immune system deterioration
- AIDS is an immune deficiency condition due to HIV
- Haemophilia is an inherited genetic disorder that impairs the body's ability to make blood clots, a process needed to stop bleeding
- HIV/AIDS- HIV is spread through contact with the blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, or breast milk of a person with HIV. In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by having anal or vaginal sex or sharing injection drug equipment, such as needles, with a person who has HIV.
- Prevention: get regular testing, limit number of sex partners, use condoms and never share medical equipment
- HIV originated in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo around 1920 when HIV crossed species from chimpanzees to humans
- 1981- a lung infection called Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) were found in five young, previously healthy gay men in Los Angeles. And there were reports of a group of men in New York and California with an unusually aggressive cancer called Kaposi’s Sarcoma. In December 1981, the first cases of PCP were reported in people who inject drugs
- By the end of 1981, there were 270 reported cases of severe immune deficiency among gay men - 121 of them had died
- 1982- It’s said that disease was reportedly found in haemophiliacs and Haitians led to the belief that it originated from Haiti. The virus was originally called GRID (‘gay-related immune deficiency’) and later the CDC used the term AIDS to describe it
- 1983- reports suggest that it could be passed from sexual intercourse (at the time only known to be passed through penile-vaginal intercourse)
- 1984- The National Cancer Institute announces that you could screen for the virus via a blood test
- 1995- the first antiretroviral treatment (HAART) was approved
- In January 2010, the travel ban preventing HIV-positive people from entering the USA was lifted
- 2012-PrEP for HIV-negative people to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV was approved
- “In 2016, African Americans accounted for 44% of HIV diagnoses, despite making up 12% of the U.S. population”
- “In 2016, more than half (58% or 10,223) of African Americans who received an HIV diagnosis were gay or bisexual men”
- “In 2015, 3,379 African Americans died of HIV disease, accounting for 52% of total deaths from HIV that year in the United States”
- 1985- Actor Rock Hudson dies from AIDS - the first high profile fatality. He left $250,000 to set up the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR)
- 1987- “World Health Organization (WHO) launched The Global Program on AIDS to raise awareness; generate evidence-based policies; provide technical and financial support to countries; conduct research; promote participation by NGOs; and promote the rights of people living with HIV”
- 1988- the WHO declared 1st December as the first World AIDS Day. The groundwork was laid for a nationwide HIV and AIDS care system in the USA that was later funded by the Ryan White CARE Act. (Ryan White was a teenager from Indiana who was banned from school after acquiring AIDS through contaminated blood products used to treat his haemophilia)
- 1991- Visual AIDS Artists Caucus launched the Red Ribbon Project to create a symbol of compassion for people living with HIV and their carers. The red ribbon became an international symbol of AIDS awareness
- 1996- the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) was established to advocate for global action on the epidemic and coordinate the response to HIV and AIDS across the UN
- 2003- President George W. Bush announced the creation of the United States President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a $15 billion, five-year plan to combat AIDS, primarily in countries with a high number of HIV infections
HIV/AIDS Stigma and Discrimination
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) talks about the stigma that follows “people living with HIV, their families, people who work with them (HIV service providers), and members of groups that have been heavily impacted by HIV, such as gay and bisexual men, homeless people, street youth, and mentally ill people.” People with HIV face discrimination based on their actual or perceived health status, race, socioeconomic status, age, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, or other grounds. Fueling the reasoning behind how HIV is transmitted, or due to specific groups of people or due to certain drugs or sexual behaviors. “Discrimination can be institutionalized through laws, policies, and practices.” UNAIDS and Advert talk about how discrimination and other human rights violations can occur in health care settings. Barring people from accessing health services. While some people living with HIV and other key affected populations are shunned by family, peers, and the wider communities. And others face poor treatment in educational and work settings, erosion of their rights, and psychological damage. These all limit access to HIV testing, treatment and other HIV services.”
Ways to educate/provide awareness and support
- Handout HIV/AIDS information locally.
- Testing: Establish February 7 as an annual day to get an HIV test
- Increase the number of people of color involved locally
- Treatment: For those newly testing HIV-positive and those coming to terms with their status, get them aware of treatment services and information
- Be a part of organizations or events that support HIV/AIDS and people of color
- Make sure to post about events, organizations etc. #NBHAAD
- Make a tax-deductible donation to the Black AIDS Institute
- Other forms of support like: Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Affordable Care Act
- We also must have conversations about “the drivers of the HIV epidemic: racism, discrimination, stigma, lack of health insurance, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, substance use, and the role that they play in furthering the epidemic in the Black/African-American community.”
This will be the 20th year of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Meaning we need to celebrate how far we have come, but continue to make strives forward and ask questions, advocate and support, in ending this epidemic a reality.