This week marks the 2018 annual Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. February 7th is a day intended to help educate the African-American community on the risks of HIV and AIDS. It is also an effort to help get sexually active members of the community tested for HIV. The annual event began in 1999 and continues to grow each year. The theme for 2018 is “Stay the course, the fight is not over.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who receive appropriate treatment and monitoring can reduce their chances of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners significantly. The CDC recommends that all people between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested at least once in their lifetime for HIV. Sexually active gay and bisexual men are recommended to test more frequently.
The CDC states that in 2015 over 45% of new HIV diagnosis were among patients in the African-American community. 58% of those cases were in gay or bisexual men.. In the past decade, new diagnosis of HIV in African-American men between the ages of 13 and 24 has increased greatly.
At the end of 2013, there was an estimated 498,400 African-Americans living with HIV in the United States. This accounted for 40% of all people living with HIV in the United States at that time. Out of these people, it is estimated that 1 out of every 8 did not know they were infected with the virus. This shows an increased need to expand HIV education in our communities.
If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to HIV, or you are simply looking for a regular screening, you should have HIV testing performed. This is the best way to know the current status of your sexual health.