February 7th marks the 18th National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a nation-wide day of action in which folks are encouraged to get tested for HIV and spread awareness.
NBHAAD began in 1999 in response to the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in African-American communities, and aims to educate, bring awareness, and mobilize the African American community. Half of the 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States are Black.
This year’s National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day theme is: “Stay the course, the fight is not over!”
Numbers to Know
1. Even though only 12% of the U.S. population is Black, 45% of new HIV infections in 2010 were Blacks. Blacks and African Americans are the most affected by HIV/AIDS of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2. If 44% of people living with HIV/AIDS in New York City are Black, that’s 52,196 people. In comparison, 32% of the total were Hispanic and 21% were white.
3. 72% of new infections for Black men are caused by male-to-male sexual contact. Black men who have sex with men account for the most new infections of HIV; with males aged 13-24 being the most affected. For Black men, some of the most common ways to get HIV is through having sex with other men, heterosexual sex, and injection drug use. If you engage in any of these activities, get tested for HIV regularly – at least once a year, and four times a year if you have sex with other men.
4. For Black women, the most common way to get HIV is through heterosexual sex. If you’re having heterosexual sex and do not know your partner’s HIV status or have sex with multiple partners, get tested for HIV at least once year. Women who have sex with other women have little or no risk of getting HIV.
5. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a drug that can be taken by people who are at high risk of HIV to prevent it. PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by over 90%, and from drug injection by over 70%, when taken regularly as prescribed. All of our primary care providers are PrEP providers and can help see if PrEP is right for you.
6. One in six, or 17% of all black people do not know they have HIV. If you think you may have already been exposed to HIV from a high-risk sexual encounter or other activity, make an appointment with a healthcare provider for testing right away. PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is a medication that can prevent HIV infection in your body, but must be started within 72 hours of exposure to be effective.
7. The Black community faces many socio-economic barriers to preventing HIV, such as higher poverty rates, limited access to good quality healthcare, housing, and HIV prevention education. Also, drug use and homophobia can combine with other factors, such as mistrust of government agencies and racism, that can prevent HIV screening and treatment efforts.
8. African American communities also face higher rates of other STIs (sexually transmitted infections) than other racial and ethnic groups. Already having an STI can increase your chance of getting HIV.
9. For Black people living with HIV, remaining in care and staying virally load suppressed (meaning that your viral load is generally very low or undetectable, so there is less virus in your body and therefore you are probably healthier) are big challenges.
Many Black people are diagnosed with HIV (81%) and linked to care (62%), but only 34% remain in regular care and only 29% are prescribed the antiretroviral medications. In fact, viral load suppression rates are only 21%, or one in five people, for African-Americans.
How Apicha CHC Can Help You
At Apicha CHC, we are very proud of our viral load suppression rate for all our patients, the number of our patients on PrEP, and the number of people we get tested.
Our healthcare providers are specialists in HIV prevention, treatment, and care. If you come for testing and remain for care at our community health center, you will receive consistent treatment from a healthcare provider who can attend to all of your health needs including HIV.
There are three ways we can help:
1. HIV Testing
We provide completely confidential HIV testing services at Apicha CHC. To sign up for our HIV Testing services, click here and select HIV/STD testing from the drop down.
2. We can get you PrEP
If you become part of Apicha CHC's PrEP Program, you will be assigned a medical provider at Apicha CHC who will assess whether PrEP is right for you and will prescribe you Truvada as PrEP.
Our PrEP staff can also help you:
- Enroll in insurance or sign you up for special PrEP cost programs
- Set up your appointments
- Remind you when your pills are running out
- You can easily pick-up your prescription at Apicha CHC's brand new in-house pharmacy or you can use our free delivery service!
You can request an appointment to get started on PrEP here. Be sure to select appointment type as "Access to PrEP/PEP".
3. Become a part of our HIV Clinic
If you know you're HIV-positive and don't currently have a medical provider or aren't happy with the one you do have. Feel free to become a part of the Apicha CHC Family.
You can request an appointment here. Be sure to select appointment type as "Primary Medical Care".