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Statement by Dr. Kevin Fenton, MD, PhD
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, February 7, 2007
Director, National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Nearly half of the more than 1 million Americans estimated to be living with HIV in the United States are African Americans. HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects African Americans. In 2005, African Americans made up approximately 13 percent of the population, but accounted for nearly half (49%) of new HIV diagnoses in the 33 states with long-term confidential name-based HIV reporting.
While these statistics paint a bleak picture, being of black race or black ethnicity is not in itself a risk factor for HIV. However, some African Americans face challenges that may place them at an increased risk of contracting HIV, including socioeconomic factors, such as poverty and stigma; high rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs); substance use; and less access to medical care.
Prompt and early diagnosis of HIV is a critical step in dealing with the crisis within the black community. CDC recommends that all Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV as a routine part of medical care. Being tested for HIV is important since people who are unaware of their infection are estimated to account for up to 70 percent of all new sexually transmitted HIV infections each year. Once diagnosed, those living with HIV can fully benefit from available life-saving treatments. They can also take steps to protect their partners and protect their community.
To reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in the black community, CDC conducts research and programs for HIV prevention that include partnering with community leaders and organizations to mobilize against HIV/AIDS, expanding the reach of effective HIV-prevention programs, conducting the Minority AIDS Research Initiative, and implementing social marketing campaigns emphasizing the importance of HIV testing.
To learn more about Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and CDC′s programs, visit www.cdc.gov/hiv.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
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