Saturday marks the ninth annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). This is a national HIV/AIDS testing and treatment initiative promoting awareness of and access to HIV/AIDS services for African Americans.
Of all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, HIV/AIDS has hit African Americans the hardest. In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the African American AIDS case rate in the United States was 60.3 per 100,000, while the rate among whites was 6.4 per 100,000. In Mississippi, the rate is 12.5 per 100,000 among African Americans and 6.1 per 100,000 among whites.
In November 2007, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) noted an increase in the number of young African American men diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection at an STD/HIV clinic in Jackson. A review of state surveillance data showed a 48 percent increase in the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases among young black men from 2005 through 2007. MSDH and the CDC conducted an onsite investigation from January to April 2008 to look at risk factors for infection and to help develop strategies for intervention. A report on this investigation is available at www.cdc.gov/mmwr.
MSDH is working with community partners to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, increase access to care, and promote HIV testing, especially in the African American community.
It is also important for individuals to understand their risk and how they can prevent transmission of this virus:
- Learn About HIV/AIDS. Educate yourself, friends, and family about HIV/AIDS and what you can do to protect yourself
- Get tested for HIV. To find a testing site near you, call 1-800-CDC-INFO, visit hivtest.org, or, on your cell phone, text your zip code to Know IT (566948)
- Speak Out against stigma, homophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS
- Donate time and money to HIV/AIDS organizations that work within African American communities