African-Americans constitute approximately 13% of the US population yet represent more than 50% of all categories in HIV and AIDS related statistics the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. This unsettling and disproportionate impact of the infection has been a reality since the early days of the disease monitoring.
In 1999, alarmed over the effects of HIV/AIDS in the African-American peoples, representatives of organizations serving Black Americans, US Public Health Service officials and persons of faith communities met to address concerns. A working group was created to further explore the issues. One of the results of these meetings was the decision to observe, annually, February 7, as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). The very first NBHAAD was held on February 7, 2000.
From the onset, it was determined that NBHAAD was a means to give the African-American “ownership” of the problem and a resource for enabling a solution. Within the HIV/AIDS crisis, often the most successful management and treatment strategies were those undertaken by the respective, targeted community.
Over the years, the direction of NBHAAD has evolved into the Strategic Leadership Council (SLC). The SLC offers direction, guidance and serious planning and thought to engaging an increase in involvement in NBHAAD by organizations with missions to deliver services to divergent African-American communities.
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day programs contain four key components for a successful awareness and involvement campaign. Each element is designed to build individual and community strengths in combatting HIV/AIDS. The four initiatives are as follows:
- Get educated: know the facts about transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
- Get involved: learn about opportunities available in community efforts.
- Get tested: know your personal status and encourage others to do the same.
- Get treated: to receive proper healthcare and support needed to successfully live with HIV/AIDS.
The red ribbon is the internationally recognized awareness ribbon for HIV/AIDS. It was one of the earliest established awareness ribbon campaigns.
What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a course of drug therapy taken by HIV-negative people to reduce their risk of HIV infection. If taken consistently and correctly, the process can virtually eliminate the chance of contracting HIV through sexual transmission. PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections STI). Condoms remain the best protection from STIs.
How does PrEP prevent HIV?
The anti-HIV drugs in PrEP stop the virus replicating inside one’s body. If a person is exposed to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and have been taking PrEP correctly, there will be sufficient quantities of the drugs to prevent the transmission of the virus.
Who can take PrEP?
PrEP isn’t recommended for everyone. It is specifically for persons who are HIV negative and sexually engaged with someone living with HIV (HIV+). Other determining factors involved with PrEP participation may include bisexual and gay men who have multiple sexual encounters but don’t always use condoms; bisexual or gay men who are new to a sexual relationship but unaware of partner’s HIV status and are not using condoms or those who have shared injecting equipment or have been in a treatment program for injecting drug use.
Is PrEP effective in preventing anal transmission of HIV?
Being the receptive partner or bottom-man during sexual encounters puts one at risk for contracting HIV. There are several types of PrEP that are available depending on a man’s pattern of sexual activity. A honest discussion with a health professional allows proper determination of the available options.
If I take PrEP, can I stop using condoms?
PrEP will protect against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. However, PrEP doesn’t provide protection against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Using a condom is the best way to prevent other STIs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and hepatitis C.
Interested in PrEP?
The good news is that international guidelines now recommend that PrEP should be made widely available. If it isn’t available now, it may be an option in the near future. A prerequisite before starting PrEP is an HIV test to ascertain that a person is currently uninfected with HIV.
Person interested in getting PrEP should contact a healthcare professional to advise them on the local protocols for the medication. They will also be able to offer the advice, monitoring and support to take PrEP correctly and ensure protection.
Author’s Note: The next posting here is planned for Friday, February 12, 2021, and the proposed topic is Vintage Bare Gallery 2: Double or Duo!