On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a crisis continues


On this 13th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, GlobalPost looked at some of the leading initiatives for combating HIV/AIDS in the black community. The staggering number of black Americans living with HIV has spurred many efforts to combat transmission of the disease, and recently, the focus has shifted from understanding the risk factors to addressing them head-on.

- The CDC has been one of the key players in addressing the HIV epidemic in black America. In 2011, it unveiled a new "high impact" prevention program aimed at populations and geographic regions most affected by the virus. This is a nationwide initiative aimed at addressing the epidemic at large, but in many cases, these programs target black Americans and especially young gay black males, whose HIV infection rates actually increased by 48 percent between 2006 and 2009, according to USA Today.

- Another CDC-funded initiative is the Expanded Testing Initiative (ETI), which focuses on increasing preventative HIV testing among African Americans. The program, currently in place in 30 health jurisdictions, was launched in 2007, and in its first three years more than 2.8 million tests had been conducted.

- In January 2012, Kaiser Permanente issued its own "HIV Challenge," calling on other providers to follow its lead in improving HIV treatment and access to care. Over the past three decades, the initiative's website reports, Kaiser Permanente has treated 60,000 HIV patients, and the organization currently treats 20,000 people. The program also shares its extensive materials and knowledge with any health care provider interested in improving their own HIV prevention and treatment programs.

The National Black AIDS Institute is focused on creating solutions within the black community to end the epidemic. It includes seven major programs aimed at animating the community into action, such as African American HIV University, a training fellowship, and the CitySheet Series, which provides vital HIV statistics and resources catered to specific cities. 

Of the more than 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, nearly half are African-American, according to the CDC. The black population remains disproportionately affected by the virus, and according to a Kaiser Permanente study, African Americans account for more new HIV/AIDS infections, diagnoses and deaths than any other ethnic or racial group in the nation. Though they made up only 12 percent of the population in 2009, black Americans accounted for 44 percent of all new cases of HIV infection that year.

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