Ask Dr. Renee: National HIV Testing Day
June 27th is National HIV Testing Day. According to the CDC, an estimated 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and that number grows by almost 50,000 every year. One in seven people who have HIV don’t even know it. That means they aren’t getting the medical care they need to stay healthy and may be passing HIV to others. As we all know, if you get tested and find out you are positive and you begin treatment you can live a long life. The days of HIV+ diagnosis being an early death are over. There is a lot of medication that is available to everyone to help them live for a very long time.
Here are some facts about HIV/AIDS in our community. I hope that you will understand why it is so important to know your status. African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV.
- The rate of new HIV infection in African Americans is 8 times that of Whites based on population size.
- Gay and bisexual men account for most new infections among African Americans; young gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 are the most affected of this group.
HIV Infection Numbers From The CDC
- African Americans accounted for an estimated 44% of all new HIV infections among adults and adolescents (aged 13 years or older) in 2010, despite representing only 12% of the US population; considering the smaller size of the African American population in the United States, this represents a population rate that is 8 times that of whites overall.
- In 2010, men accounted for 70% (14,700) of the estimated 20,900 new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent African Americans. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for African American men (103.6/100,000 population) was 7 times that of white men, twice that of Latino men, and nearly 3 times that of African American women.
- In 2010, African American gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men** represented an estimated 72% (10,600) of new infections among all African American men and 36% of an estimated 29,800 new HIV infections among all gay and bisexual men. More new HIV infections (4,800) occurred among young African American gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24) than any other subgroup of gay and bisexual men.
- In 2010, African American women accounted for 6,100 (29%) of the estimated new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent African Americans. This number represents a decrease of 21% since 2008. Most new HIV infections among African American women (87%; 5,300) are attributed to heterosexual contact. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for African American women (38.1/100,000 population) was 20 times that of white women and almost 5 times that of Hispanic/Latino women.
These statistics are disheartening because unlike cancer and many other terminal illnesses, HIV is 100% preventable. We have testing to find out your status and we have prophylactics to prevent the transmission of the virus. It is very important that when we introduce sexual education to children that we make HIV/AIDS a part of the teaching so there will no longer be a stigma around being tested. There are HIV tests you can self administer at home and find out your results immediately. These kits can be purchased at many drug stores, there is no excuse to not know your status.
Please help spread the word and encourage your family and friends to get tested. We can all do something to help stop the spread of HIV. Here are some ideas that are suggested by the Center for Disease Control about how you and your friends and family can get involved.
- Share your knowledge of HIV or your personal HIV story with others. One of the best ways to increase awareness is through a personal connection with others. Participants featured in CDC’s HIV awareness campaign Let’s Stop HIV Together, shared their voices and personal stories to raise HIV awareness, reduce stigma, and champion the power of relationships in the personal and public fight to stop HIV.
- Use social media to increase HIV awareness. Follow @TalkHIV and tweet about National HIV Testing Day using #NHTD. You can also like Act Against AIDS on Facebook and create your own Let’s Stop HIV Together meme. Share your ad and encourage others to do the same.
- Support people living with HIV. Have an open, honest conversation about staying safe and healthy. Listen to the challenges that people living with HIV face and provide support for their special needs.
- Volunteer in your community. The first step to getting involved in HIV prevention is to contact your local AIDS service organizations and/or community health departments. These groups can help identify opportunities or other organizations that may need the support of volunteers .
Please visit Ask Dr. Renee so we can continue this conversation about how to stop the spread of HIV in our community.