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National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Father and son, sitting and talkingFebruary 7th marks the 15th annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). Led by the Strategic Leadership Council, this initiative is designed to increase HIV education, testing, community involvement, and treatment among black communities across the nation.

Compared to other racial/ethnic groups in the United States, blacks/African Americans* account for a disproportionate burden of HIV and AIDS. While blacks represent approximately 12% of the U.S. population, they account for more new HIV infections (44%), people living with HIV (43%), and deaths of persons with diagnosed HIV (48%) than any other racial/ethnic group in the nation. Among blacks, gay and bisexual men, especially young men, are the most affected population—accounting for the majority of new infections.

Despite these numbers, we have seen encouraging signs of progress in the fight against HIV in the black community. Blacks are more likely than other races and ethnicities to report that they have been tested for HIV at least once—65% versus 46% for Hispanics/Latinos and 41% for whites. And the number of new HIV infections among blacks overall is on target [10.6MB] to meet a 2015 national goal to reduce new infections by 25%. Additionally, black women had a 21% decline in new infections in 2010 compared to 2008.

But more work needs to be done to ensure that everyone knows how to protect themselves and their partners against HIV.

Testing makes us stronger. As friends, we encourage each other to stay healthy and get tested for HIV.

Testing Makes Us Stronger encourages HIV testing among black gay and bisexual men.

Love him. Love yourself more. Take charge. Take the test.

Take Charge. Take the Test. encourages African American women to get tested for HIV.

Care and Prevention

HIV testing is the first critical step to help the estimated 74,000 blacks with undiagnosed HIV learn of their infection. Although blacks are more likely to get tested for HIV than any other racial/ethnic group, there is an urgent need to make sure that blacks who are living with HIV get an early diagnosis and receive timely, and ongoing, medical care and treatment. 

Early diagnosis and treatment are important because effective HIV treatment can increase the number of people living with HIV who have the virus under control–allowing them to live longer, healthier lives and reducing the likelihood they will transmit HIV to others.

What Can You Do?

The theme for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2015, I Am My Brother/Sister's Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS!, means that everyone can be an important part of the solution. NBHAAD encourages black communities to:

  • Get educated. Learn basic facts about HIV transmission, testing, and prevention.
  • Get tested for HIV. CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. HIV is spread mainly through unprotected sex and drug-injecting behaviors, so people who engage in these behaviors should get tested more often. To find a testing site near you, call 1-800-CDC-INFO(232-4636), visit the GetTested page, or text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948). You can also use one of the two FDA-approved home testing kits available in drugstores or online. Learn more about CDC's HIV testing campaigns aimed at increasing HIV testing among the black community through Testing Makes Us Stronger and Take Charge. Take the Test.
  • Get HIV protection. Today, more tools than ever are available to help prevent HIV. In addition to limiting your number of sexual partners and using condoms correctly and consistently, you can talk to your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), taking HIV medicine daily to prevent HIV infection. If you believe that you had a possible exposure to HIV, you can also talk to your doctor right away about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP must be started as soon as possible to be effective—and always within 3 days of a possible exposure.
  • Get treated. If you are HIV-positive, start treatment as soon as possible with antiretroviral therapy (ART), and stay on treatment. ART can lower the level of virus in your body enough to improve your health and greatly decrease your chance of transmitting HIV to your partner. Learn about others who have overcome challenges to HIV Treatment. See CDC's new HIV Treatment Works campaign and Living With HIV page.
  • Get involved. Raise awareness and fight stigma by sharing your story, volunteering in your community, or caring for someone who is living with HIV. Learn more through the Let's Stop HIV Together campaign.

 * Referred to as black in this feature.