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National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Shines Light on Health Disparity

February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an opportunity to promote HIV prevention, testing, and treatment among African Americans in the U.S.

African Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates they accounted for nearly half (44%) of all new infections in 2010, despite making up only 14% of the population. This represents a rate that is eight times as high as that of whites.

Most of these infections are in African American men, most of whom are men who have sex with men, accounting for more new infections than any other subgroup by race/ethnicity, age, and sex, CDC says.

African American women also continue to be far more affected by HIV than women of other races/ethnicities, recent CDC data show early signs of an encouraging decrease in new HIV infections. The federal agency is officially "cautiously optimistic that this is the beginning of a longer-term trend."

Working together with state and local public health agencies, African American communities, and other partners in the public and private sectors, CDC continues to address the HIV epidemic in African American communities.

One of these efforts is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day , directed, planned, and organized by a group of organizations led by the Strategic Leadership Council partnering with the CDC to mobilize communities across the country to fight HIV and lessen its impact on African American communities.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was started 13 years ago to mobilize people in African American communities to:

Get educated about the basic facts on HIV and AIDS.

Get tested for HIV. Knowing your status saves lives!

Get involved to raise HIV awareness and fight stigma about HIV.

Get treated if living with HIV or newly diagnosed.

The theme for 2013, "I Am My Brother's/Sister's Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS," emphasizes that all African Americans, regardless of sexual orientation, economic class, or educational level, can be an important part of the solution to the HIV epidemic in African American communities.

Research shows African Americans do not engage in riskier behavior than members of other racial/ethnic groups. However, there are many social and economic barriers that can increase the risk of HIV, such as poverty, racial discrimination, limited access to health care and housing, and incarceration. While stigma, fear, and silence increase the risk of HIV while decreasing the willingness to get support, get tested, and get treatment if needed.

For more information and the latest statistics from the CDC on HIV in African Americans, click here

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