GLAAD RECOGNIZES NATIONAL BLACK HIV/AIDS AWARENESS DAY AND THE HIV AND BLACK-LED ADVOCACY GROUPS CENTERING BLACK COMMUNITIES IN THE DEEP SOUTH WHO CONTINUE TO BE DISPROPORTIONATELY IMPACTED BY HIV

February 7, 2022

GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is honoring National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, by highlighting the progress made in HIV prevention, treatment, and care over the last 40 years. Despite the enormous strides made towards ending the HIV and AIDS epidemic, there is still work to be done, especially in Black communities. 

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Despite only being 12% of the U.S. population, Black communities make up 475,000 (43%) of people living with HIV out of 1.1 million people. The numbers focus on barriers faced by Black Americans living with HIV due to inadequate access to education, testing, prevention resources, proper healthcare, racism, discrimination, socioeconomic status, and a number of other risk factors and structural obstacles. 

Over half of new HIV diagnoses occurred in the Deep South, 8 in 10 states have the highest rates of new HIV diagnosis in the region, Florida leads the nation’s overall numbers of new HIV cases

Statement from Darian Aaron, Communications Director of Counter Narrative Project in Atlanta, Georgia:

"Since 1999, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day has been observed to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and treatment in Black communities.” 

“CNP is committed to producing narrative-shifting work on The Reckoning, our digital publication, and Revolutionary Health, our YouTube show, along with other key initiatives such as the CNP Narrative Leadership Summit, the Narrative Justice Fellowship, and the CNP Leadership Lab. Our vision for our work is to build and elevate Black HIV movement leadership, resist structural violence, and elevate and replicate joy throughout our communities.” 

 

Statement from Serena Sonoma, Communications Coordinator & Regional Media Lead, U.S. South, GLAAD:

“There are roughly 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, and it’s important that the media cover not only their stories but the systemic barriers perpetuating the epidemic and stigmatizing those most at risk. HIV is preventable, survivable, treatable to the point of being undetectable and therefore untransmittable, U=U. Every media outlet should be uplifting those facts if we’re ever going to end the epidemic. On this awareness day, GLAAD urges reporters to seek Black leaders moving their community’s stories forward, and open dialogue about the facts and myths surrounding HIV.”

“We must look at the facts about HIV in order to end the onslaught of discrimination against people living with, and the misinformed threats that may stem from media: 

  • HIV is not a death sentence 
  • People living with HIV go on to live long and healthy lives when taking daily medication 
  • All people regardless of race, age, and sexual orientation are vulnerable to HIV 
  • The most vulnerable populations for HIV often have limited access to resources including healthcare and transportation”

 

Further facts from the CDC has found the following key facts: 

  • An estimated 1.2 million people have HIV in the U.S. About 1 in 7 of them don’t know they have the virus.
  • The only way to know you have HIV is to get tested.
  • Ask your healthcare provider for an HIV test, or go to gettested.cdc.gov  to find a testing site near you.
  • Today, more tools than ever are available to prevent HIV. You can use strategies such as abstinence (not having sex), never sharing needles, and using condoms the right way every time you have sex. You may also be able to take advantage of HIV prevention medicines such as pre-exposure prophylaxis(PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
  • If you have HIV, treatment is available to keep you healthy and protect your sex partners. If you take HIV medicine and get and keep an undetectable viral load, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
  • If you have HIV, the sooner you start treatment, the more you will benefit.

 

Research has found:  

  • If current rates continue: 1 in 2 Black gay men who have sex with men will contract HIV in their lifetimes. 
  • 4 in 10 transgender respondents were living with HIV, with rates even higher among Black transgender women, with 61.9% of respondents being HIV-positive. 
  • Contributing factors for high rates in transgender women are due in part to social and economic factors - including systemic racism and transphobia. 
  • Over half (51%) of people in the U.S. living with HIV are aged 50 and older, and although new diagnoses are declining among this demographic, 1 in 6 HIV diagnoses were among this group. However, people over the age of 50 who have HIV are living longer, healthier lives due to effective HIV treatment. 
  • Several states have laws to criminalize people living with HIV, including: 
    • 30 states which have HIV-specific criminal laws and/or sentence enhancements
    • 25 states have prosecuted people living with HIV under non-HIV-specific general criminal laws 
    • 6 states may require registration as a sex offender as part of punishment under HIV-specific laws

 

GLAAD’s 2021 State of HIV Stigma, a national survey in partnership with the Gilead COMPASS Initiative measured American attitudes toward HIV and people living with HIV. According to its study, people living with HIV continue to experience stigma which is fueled by misinformation and lack of information “about the remarkable progress science and medicine have made to make HIV not only preventable but when treated properly, transmittable.” 

The study found less than half of Americans, 48%, feel knowledgeable about HIV, down three points from a year ago, with the highest discomfort levels allocated to the South and Midwest.

 

GLAAD Resources

 

About NBHAAD

The first NBHAAD was in 1999 and began as a grassroots-education effort to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and treatment in communities of color. Annual observances of NBHAAD continue to raise awareness and provide opportunities to combat stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. NBHAAD services allow us to continue fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic and misinformation by providing resources for the public and Black communities to access, some of which include:

  • Education
  • Harm Reduction Practices
  • Treatment Options
  • Community Engagement

 

About The Counter Narrative Project

The Counter Narrative Project (CNB) is committed to public education as a strategy to build cultural competence among community allies, as a tool to heal internalized stigma among Black gay men, and fight structural stigma in the culture at large. The organization also believes advocacy training has to be coupled with Black gay men’s movement history and cultural production to best facilitate issue awareness.