On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Get Educated, Get Involved, and Get Tested

ByJanna Zinzi

Thursday, February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. (NBLCA) is commemorating the day with an online rally where people can join us to spread awareness about the importance of HIV testing and share their own thoughts. We are committed to destigmatizing HIV/AIDS and testing, and getting people more comfortable talking about their sexual health — which is in the spirit of what this day is all about.  

According to the official site, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization effort to get blacks from all across the United States and territorial areas to get educated about the basics of HIV/AIDS; get tested to know their HIV status; get involved locally in their community and family to highlight the HIV/AIDS epidemic; and get treated if they are living with HIV/AIDS.

Did you know that while blacks make up only 12% of the American population, they comprise close to 50% of reported HIV and AIDS cases? In 2010, blacks accounted for almost 50% of new AIDS diagnoses. Even more disturbing, while blacks are only 17% of the teenaged population in the United States, black teens account for 70% of new AIDS diagnoses in that age group. Black women in the United States are 15 times more likely than white women to become infected with HIV. AIDS cuts across all demographic groups, but in America today, its impact on racial minorities is grave and unparalleled.

It is critical for black communities to promote and take a proactive approach to health. We know that social factors like poverty, housing insecurity, and racial discrimination in our health care system exacerbate the spread of HIV/AIDS within minority communities, and we need long-term proactive solutions. But one thing we can do immediately is take advantage of free testing sites available around the country to make sure we know our status, which will help prevent the spread of the virus.

We also have to eliminate the stigma of talking about HIV/AIDS. Today is a day for us to speak candidly about sexual health, and these discussions must continue after National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is over. We must talk openly and consistently about HIV/AIDS and all STIs. The time is now for us to turn the tide together and collectively take steps to educate ourselves, our families, our friends, and our communities about the realities of HIV transmission, infection, and treatment.

Our online rally will feature photos and quotes throughout the day from people expressing the importance of getting tested and why they do it. We are asking for you to join us and be a part of it! Please send a photo and a quote that describes why testing is important to you. We will post it on Facebook and/or Tumblr (your name is optional and you can submit it here). Or you can tweet it to us (@NBLCA) using the hashtags: #turnthetide and #NBHAAD.

Join NBLCA online to help us prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and take small but critical steps to creating healthy communities for all of us!