National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
The National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) was first observed in 1999. It was as a grassroots education effort to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS prevention and medical treatment in Black/African American communities. Today, NBHAAD is dedicated to raising awareness about the disproportionate impact of HIV on Blacks/African Americans, and the importance of increasing access to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment services to reduce this burden.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), national HIV prevention efforts have reduced the incidence of HIV infection among Black/African American people by 8% from 2015 to 2019 (CDC's Estimated HIV Infections among Black/African American People in the US, 2015-2019). However, there is much work that still needs to be done because HIV disproportionately affects Black/African American communities. In 2019, the CDC reported 41% of the estimated 34,800 total new infections in the United States were Blacks/African Americans. While Blacks/African Americans comprise just over 12% of all people living in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2020), they disproportionately represent 40% of all people living with HIV (CDC). The problem is worse in the Southern U.S., where Blacks/African Americans account for more than 50% of new HIV diagnoses and comprise only 19% of that population, in 2019.
There are several challenges that impact the HIV burden in Blacks/African Americans.
Viral suppression. Compared to all people diagnosed with HIV, Black/African American people have lower viral suppression rates (defined as 200 or less copies of HIV per milliliter of blood). Many people with HIV experience challenges achieving and maintaining viral suppression over time. Some of these challenges include missing HIV medical appointments, needing but not receiving other important health care services, or missing doses of HIV treatment. In 2020, the America’s HIV Epidemic Analysis Dashboard, suggested Black/African Americans with HIV had a 60.4% rate of viral suppression versus 64% for all people living with HIV. Taking HIV medicines as indicated by your doctor will help you achieve and maintain viral suppression, decrease complications associated with HIV, prevent the development of drug resistance, and prevent transmission of HIV to other people. People living with HIV who have achieved viral suppression and have undetectable virus in their blood have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to a partner who does not have HIV.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Blacks/African Americans have much higher rates of STDs, such as Gonorrhea, Chlamydia than the general population. In 2018, the overall rate of reported Gonorrhea cases among Blacks was 7.7 times the rate among Whites. Chlamydia reported cases among Blacks in the United States was 1,192.5 cases per 100,000 population. The rate was five times higher in Black females than White females, among Black males was 6.8 times higher than the rate among White males.
Having another STD can increase a person’s chance of getting or transmitting HIV (STDs and HIV – CDC Detailed Fact Sheet), and studies show STD treatment may reduce HIV viral load. Therefore, STD screening and treatment may reduce risk for HIV transmission.
Access to services. Nearly 70% of the general health uninsured population is poor or near poor. The uninsured tend to forego preventative care and wait until an illness is severe before seeking medical care. As of 2022, the uninsured rate for Black/ African Americans is higher than that for White Americans that being 12% compared to 9%. In 2020, Blacks/African Americans are almost twice as likely to live below the poverty line at 19.5% compared to the overall population at 11%.
Preventive Interventions. Deploying highly effective biomedical interventions is key to addressing HIV-related disparities experienced by Blacks/African Americans. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and treatment as prevention (TasP) are the most powerful tools in our HIV toolkit:
- PrEP: A potent medication for HIV prevention, PrEP shows promise for reducing HIV disparities. However, PrEP is not equitably utilized by all races and ethnicities in the USA and its uptake is especially low among Blacks/African Americans (see our article PrEP Not Reaching Most Americans Who Could Benefit). Understanding factors influencing low PrEP uptake among Blacks/African Americans may increase PrEP uptake.
- TasP: We know that too few Black/African Americans living with HIV are receiving HIV care and achieving and maintaining a suppressed viral load. Improving the rate of viral suppression among Blacks/African Americans living with HIV is important to not only preserve their health, but also reduce onward transmission of the virus to others.
Strategies to address HIV and AIDS: The CDC is promoting HIV testing, prevention, and treatment through the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign, which is part of the national Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative. Also see the CDC’s high impact prevention (High-Impact HIV Prevention CDC’s Approach to Reducing HIV Infections in the United States [PDF]). The only way to know your HIV status is to get tested. Find HIV prevention services, including HIV testing, near you at the CDC HIV Testing webpage.
Browse this National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day webpage to learn more.
The U.S. Government recognizes National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Webpages
NIH Research Related to HIV and AIDS in Blacks/African Americans
- NIH Strategic Plan for HIV and HIV-Related Research (FY 2021—2025), from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of AIDS Research (OAR). The Plan describes NIH research priorities to prevent, treat, and eventually cure HIV and AIDS. Reducing health disparities is a crosscutting area of research emphasized in the Plan.
- HIV/AIDS-Related Clinical Trials: Research studies related to HIV and AIDS and Black/African Americans, from ClinicalTrials.gov. Call HIVinfo at 1-800-448-0440 for assistance with your clinical trials search.
Current Research Related to HIV and AIDS in Blacks/African Americans
- Research within the past one year, from PubMed.gov.
- Research within the past one year, from the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC).
Additional Information and Resources
- HIV and African American People.
- HIV and African American People (fact sheet, pdf).
- HIV in the United States by Race/Ethnicity.
- HIV and Black/African American People in the U. S.
- America’s HIV Epidemic Analysis Dashboard.