Today, Feb. 7, marks the 17th anniversary of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD).
Founded in 1999, NBHAAD was a response to the disproportionately high number of HIV/AIDS cases being diagnosed in the African American community, and focuses on promoting HIV testing and treatment, as well as educating people about HIV/AIDS. This year’s theme is “I am My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS.”
“Now, more than ever, it’s important for African Americans to learn their HIV status & talk about prevention and care options,” said Eugene McCray, director of the Center for Disease Control’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.
According to the CDC, although African Americans make up only 12.9 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for 48 percent of those diagnosed with AIDS – 58 percent of which were gay or bisexual black men. Furthermore, 38 percent of those gay and bisexual black men were aged 13 to 24.
With respect to the overall population, gay and bisexual African American men are still disproportionately affected by AIDS — something NBHAAD attempts to highlight and combat.
With recent rumors about possible executive orders from Trump regarding religious freedom — which could potentially allow for denial of healthcare for the LGBTQ community — many organizations are revitalizing the fight to educate, inform, test and treat the queer black community to prevent the continued spread of HIV/AIDS.
“On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we reaffirm our commitment to eliminating this disparity and improving outcomes through standard HIV testing and linkage to care,” GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie said in a statement. “With the future of access to high-quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education so uncertain under the current administration, we pledge to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper, to advocate for innovative and expanded HIV prevention methods, to fight HIV/AIDS and to live life.”