In the United States, the HIV/AIDS virus is most prevalent in the Black community. Although Blacks only account for 13 percent of the U.S.population, they accounted for 51 percent of all new HIV diagnoses between 2001 and 2005. "In the U.S., we see that AIDS is a Black disease no matter how you look at it," Phil Wilson, executive director for the Black AIDS Institute, told DiversityInc.
Today marks the eighth observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and researchers say it is a day for concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than 1 million Americans are living with HIV, and 47 percent of them are Black. "The rate of HIV diagnosis for Black males is nearly seven times that of white males and more than twice the rate of Hispanic males," Jennifer Ruth, a spokesperson for the CDC, told DiversityInc. "The HIV-diagnosis rate for Black females is more than 20 times that of white females and almost four times that for Hispanic females."
Black youths between the ages 13 and 24 account for 61 percent of diagnoses.
"We are still trying to get the message across to people that, where HIV is concerned, silence is not golden. It's a killer," says Garth Graham, head of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "We have a responsibility to talk about how people can protect themselves from HIV, including what to do when they are tested and diagnosed."
National HIV/AIDS organizations are rolling out new programs to help curb the issue, especially among the country's Black youth. Advocacy groups are teaming up with churches, civil-rights groups and community organizations to fight the pandemic, says Wilson"Without a vaccine or a cure, prevention and other positive public health messages, such as the ABC strategy (Abstinence, Be faithful, and use Condoms), are our only real hope of stopping the spread of HIV," says Graham.
While the HIV/AIDS rate among Blacks is still alarming, the CDC report there have been no indications of increases in the overall rate of new HIV infections among Blacks. "There have been signs of possible reductions in new infections among Blacks in some areas hard-hit by HIV, such as the state of
Florida and in populations hard-hit throughout the country, including injection-drug users and African-American women," Ruth says.