Organizations Continue Fight for HIV Prevention
February 11, 2010
While prevention efforts have helped to keep the rate of HIV/AIDS stable among African Americans for more than a decade, blacks still comprise 46 percent of those living with HIV in the United States, according to CDC. Blacks represent just 13 percent of the US population.
The infection rate would have been higher if community leaders did not mobilize in 1999 to create the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, held each year on Feb. 7, said LaMont Evans, CEO of Healthy Black Communities Inc.
"It is not a comfortable thing to have a stable epidemic," said Evans. Since 1999, "200,000 black people have contracted HIV, which is totally unacceptable because HIV is 100 percent preventable," he said.
One explanation behind the continuing infections is complacency, as treatment optimism has replaced the association of HIV/AIDS with death, said Dr. Theresa Mack, who primarily treats patients with the disease in New York.
In 2007, AIDS diagnoses decreased among blacks, although the AIDS rate for blacks was higher than for any other race/ethnicity, according to CDC. Blacks were diagnosed with AIDS at 10 times the rate for whites and three times for Hispanics. The rate of AIDS diagnoses for black women was 22 times the rate for white women.
"We will need to have a mobilization around the community in a way that really meets the sense of crisis that we are facing today," said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. "We need to continue to focus on delivering the most effective prevention and intervention to those in greatest need."
02.05.2010; Marcia Wade Talbert