amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

 A Call for Prevention on Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

February 5, 2010—On the tenth annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, February 7, activists and community members will mark the occasion by calling for more targeted prevention efforts to reach African Americans, who remain disproportionately affected by the virus. This year’s awareness campaign, “HIV/AIDS Prevention: A Choice and a Lifestyle,” urges African Americans to protect themselves against HIV and to raise awareness of the epidemic.

African Americans made up nearly half of those living with HIV in the U.S. in 2006, although they comprise only 12 percent of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Poverty, stigma, and lack of access to healthcare all contribute to high rates of infection among this community, along with other risk factors including injection drug use and other sexually transmitted infections. African-American men who have sex with men (MSM) are among the groups at highest risk of infection, as shown by a recent CDC study of black MSM in five cities, which found 46 percent to be HIV positive; 67 percent of that group were unaware of their infection.

One of the three goals set forth by President Obama to inform the development and implementation of a national HIV/AIDS strategy is the reduction of HIV-related health disparities. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, affirmed this commitment in his statement marking National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, saying, “As a nation, we must knock down the barriers that prevent many Americans, especially African-Americans, from receiving health care in general, and HIV testing, counseling, and treatment in particular.”

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