February 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This year’s theme, “We’re in This Together” promotes working collectively to stop HIV stigma and end HIV among disproportionately affected Black communities.
In Texas, roughly 4 in 10 people living with HIV are Black and 36% of new HIV diagnoses are among Black Texans.
Factors driving the HIV epidemic among African Americans
“The socioeconomic issues associated with poverty, including the limited access to high quality healthcare, housing, and HIV prevention education directly and indirectly increase the risk of HIV infection.”
HIV particularly disproportionately affects Black Women and Black gay/bisexual/ and other men who have sex with men.
Nearly half of all women living with HIV in Texas are Black. Fortunately, new diagnoses among Black women continues to slowly decline, but more work must be done to address the unique needs of Black women living with HIV in Texas.
“HIV is just a part of who I am, I’m a mother, I’m different things. And so I put it in my hand instead of being in its.”
Almost 8 in 10 Black women living with HIV in Texas are accessing HIV treatment.
As a community dedicated to supporting people living with HIV and providing opportunities to live the fullest and healthiest lives possible, we must strive to create new opportunities for Black women to access the support and treatment needed. 84% of Black women who are accessing care consistently are achieving viral suppression.
“One of the things I’ve discovered too, or I know for myself, is stigma is as bad as the disease. This idea that it’s those people. It’s always somebody else. Well, it isn’t. It’s really your next-door neighbor, your doctor, your lawyer, your minister, you know. And, really, if there’s a campaign that’s aimed at making folks aware of that. I mean, until we stop being “those people” the stigma doesn’t go away.”
Deciding Moment: Vannetta
“There were a lot of people that said that I wouldn’t make it… but I am healthy and I’m alive and I didn’t know how long I had then, but I’m taking my medicine and life is just so much to live for and I thank God that 20 plus years I’m still here.”
Nearly 2 out of 10 people living with HIV in Texas are Black gay, bi-sexual, or other men who have sex with men (GBMSM).
“Even though I could see that it hurt her, I remember her holding me and telling me that everything was going to be okay, and that she loved me no matter what. I had my mother’s support from the very beginning… I just decided at that moment that I wasn’t going to be depressed anymore and I was going to make something of my life because I had a lot more to live for.”
Deciding Moment: Marteniz
“I feel like, you know, I’ve been very fortunate to have that type of love and support. I would love to be able to be a mentor to somebody else and help them avoid the pitfalls that I encountered when I was a teenager. My life doesn’t revolve around HIV. Marteniz Brown is so much greater than AIDS.”
22% of all new HIV diagnoses in 2018 were among Black gay, bi-sexual, and other men who have sex with men.
Deciding Moment: Andre
In Texas, there are roughly 3,500 Black GBMSM living with undiagnosed HIV.
Greater and more diverse testing options should be developed to open opportunities for Black GBMSM to know their HIV status in order to thrive, whether they are or aren’t living with HIV.
3 out of 4 Black gay, bi-sexual, and other MSM are accessing HIV treatment.
More must be done to support Black GBMSM as they seek and engage in treatment needed to live long healthy lives.
Let’s Talk About HIV Treatment: Charles
“It’s been four years, I am health, I am virally suppressed. Some people don’t know what virally suppressed means. I always let them know, it’s still in your blood system, but it’s also saying that you cannot transmit it to anyone.”
“HIV treatment works, it gives you peace of mind. But it only works if you take your medication. It’s very important to have that routine. Just basically knowing, either waking up and taking it, or before you’re going to sleep.”
“I’m doing what I need to do to actually succeed in keeping that virus suppressed.”
Roughly 8 in 10 Black GBMSM in Texas are accessing care consistently and achieving viral suppression.
Let’s Talk About HIV Treatment: Mahlon
“I thought of HIV as this thing that was going to kill me. But HIV is a manageable health condition.”
“I am a person who is all of the things that he was before, and just so happens to be living with HIV.”
To achieve our goals of ending HIV in Texas we, as a diverse and passionate community of people dedicated to providing opportunities for people to thrive must work together to end the disproportionate impact HIV has on the Black communities in Texas. To end health disparities and achieve the equitable health and prevention outcomes we seek, we must all educate ourselves and find new opportunities to engage with, support, and open access to the systems and resources that communities need to thrive.
To learn more about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and what you can do visit the links below.