Wednesday of this week, February 7, is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the USA. It’s the date, conveniently during the USA’s Black History Month observance, to direct people’s attention to the disproportionate impact the HIV/AIDS pandemic has on the African-American community. Americans of African descent constitute 13% of this country’s population yet represent more than 50% of all categories reported in HIV and AIDS related statistics reported to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This disparity in infection rates remains a disgrace on the American Public Health system and represents negligence by the both elected officials and leaders.
The early years of the AIDS pandemic were prolific with myths, half-truths and misinformation. Due to the chaos and confusion, prevention messages were lost or obscured by other sensational headlines about HIV. The media was looking to make a profit with this disease while they had the chance. The result was a needless list of lives wasted due to rumor, innuendo and finger-pointing with little or no factual information reaching the general population.
In 1999, alarmed over the disproportionate effects caused by HIV/AIDS within their community, representatives from organizations serving Black Americans and U. S. Public Health Service officials met to address concerns. One of the results of these meetings was the decision to observe February 7, annually, as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). The first commemoration of NBHAAD was held on February 7, 2000. This year marks the 18th year of this national testing and treatment community mobilization initiative.
Over the years, the coordination of NBHAAD has evolved into the Strategic Leadership Council (SLC). The SLC provides guidance, direction, support and strategic thought to engaging an increase in involvement in NBHAAD by organization and individuals with missions and interests in providing services to African-American communities. One of the major achievements of this campaign has been the availability of information and promotional materials on HIV/AIDS that are both culturally sensitive and nonjudgmental.
The SLC have determined that the mission of NBHAAD is to:
- Get educated about the facts concerning HIV/AIDS.
- Get involved in community prevention and treatment efforts.
- Get tested in order to know your status.
- Get treated in order to receive care and services needed to live with HIV.
The 2018 theme for NBHAAD is: “Stay the course, the fight is not over!” We need to challenge ourselves in our mindset within our homes, our communities, our workplaces, our schools, our churches, our mosques and our temples because we all need to stand up to HIV/AIDS.
For additional information on NBHAAD or to find an event close to you, click onto the link below: