This February, WORLD commemorates Black History Month, and wishes you well on this February 7th, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day!
As we celebrate Black History and the tremendous accomplishments made by African Americans and Black people around the world, we should also take time to reflect on the institutional barriers that still exist, and how we can work together to overcome them. It is clear that racism and discrimination are NOT problems of the past, and that these and related issues continue to affect Black people in myriad ways.
HIV and AIDS are also often dismissed as problems of the past—or worse, thought to be insurmountable problems. Nothing could be further from the truth! There have been incredible strides made to prevent and manage the condition over the last 30 years, including antiretroviral medicines, enabling HIV positive people to have an undetectable viral load, and innovations such as PrEP, a daily pill which helps prevent transmission of the virus. However, structural inequalities and damaging stereotypes often prevent those who need help most from accessing these life-saving and life-enhancing treatments.
Though many people think of HIV/AIDS as conditions affecting only men who have sex with men, here in Oakland, CA, where WORLD is located, African American women are at significant risk of HIV infection. According to the Oakland TGA Comprehensive HIV Service Plan, women comprise 19% of people living with HIV/AIDS- higher than in any major metropolitan area in the western US- with 64.9% being African American and 13.1% Latina. In the U.S., African American/Black women represent the fourth largest population segment of new HIV diagnoses. Further, only 70% of women living with HIV in the U.S. are linked to care, with a mere 26% achieving viral suppression. Indeed, women living with HIV/AIDS often experience significant barriers to quality care, including poverty, substance use, violence, and social and cultural factors.
On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and throughout Black History Month, WORLD encourages you to think about how HIV/AIDS may affect your own life and community, as well as the communities around you.
As you reflect, please consider:
Making a donation to WORLD! http://www.womenhiv.org/donate/
Coming in to the WORLD House Monday-Friday to consult with our experienced and compassionate Peer Advocates!
Joining us at scheduled events, such as our upcoming Valentine’s Day Bake Sale!
Connecting with us on social media! https://www.facebook.com/womenhiv/ *** https://twitter.com/womenhivworld *** https://www.instagram.com/worldoakland/
As we say at WORLD, “You are not alone.” I am my sister’s keeper! I am my brother’s keeper! I am my community’s keeper!
For more information and resources concerning National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day:
This post was written by Molly Roberts, WORLD Front Office Assistant