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Press Release

NMAC Commemorates the 2010 National Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

June 8, 2010

Washington, DC -- The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) joins the nation in honoring the fifth annual National Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NCAHAAD) this Tuesday, June 8, 2010. Convened by the Caribbean People International Collective, Inc., NCAHAAD also marks the first of what will become an annual observance of National Caribbean-American Health/AIDS Awareness Day.

NCAHAAD provides Caribbean-Americans with resources, HIV/AIDS health education, evaluation, and opportunities for involvement, and serves as a time to reflect, memorialize, and show compassion for those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. The day also highlights the socio-economic determinants -- such as poverty, homelessness, substance use and lack of access to education -- that have fueled health disparities in Caribbean-American communities. In addition to HIV/AIDS, Caribbean-Americans experience disproportionately high rates of diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure, much of which are fueled by frequent migration between the U.S. and the Caribbean, as well as between different cities and states within the U.S., related to employment opportunities, immigration issues, and family obligations.

"People on the move are less likely to have access to quality ongoing health care," says Paul A. Kawata, NMAC's Executive Director. "This is particularly devastating for Caribbean-Americans living with and at-risk for HIV, who often fear accessing the prevention, testing, treatment, and care they need due to the stigma associated with AIDS."

Today, the Caribbean is second only to Sub-Saharan Africa in HIV/AIDS infection rates. In 2008, an estimated 240,000 people in the region were living with HIV. Approximately 20,000 of this group were newly infected, and 12,000 died. The impact of HIV/AIDS on future generations is of great concern; nearly half of all people living with HIV in the Caribbean are women, many of them in their child-bearing years.

HIV/AIDS is believed to be highly prevalent among the more than 6.9 million Caribbean-Americans in the U.S. as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which includes Caribbean-Americans with all people of African descent in its statistical analyses of the AIDS epidemic, reported in 2008 that over half of all HIV cases occurred among African Americans/Blacks annually. And of the more than one million people who have died of AIDS in the U.S. since the epidemic began in 1981, over 500,000 were members of African American/Black communities.

Hope for the future of a Caribbean and Caribbean-American community with available preventive health care as a daily part of life and a Caribbean Diaspora free of AIDS begins with us. Learn about what your community is doing by visiting NCHAAD online. In Washington, D.C., NMAC continues to promote public policy to increase access to testing, housing, and other essential services for people of color -- including Caribbean-Americans -- living with and impacted by HIV/AIDS. The agency also supports legislation promoting education efforts to mitigate AIDS-related stigma, as well as helping mobile populations to access health care without risking arrests or other immigration-related reprisals. NMAC also continues to encourage everyone to support HIV vaccine research, which is essential to ultimately ending the global AIDS pandemic, through educational efforts and participation in HIV vaccine trials.

Other resources and activities include:

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This article was provided by National Minority AIDS Council. Visit NMAC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
See Also
Caribbean Americans and HIV/AIDS

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