February 1, 2012
Feb. 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Free HIV testing and public awareness events scheduled in Minnesota
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) will be held in Minnesota, as across the nation, on Feb. 7 to call attention to the staggering toll HIV/AIDS has had on Black communities across the country.
With the national theme of, "I Am My Brother/Sister's Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS," local organizers hope to raise awareness and encourage African-Americans and African-born persons to get tested, get educated, get treated and get involved within their communities to halt the spread of this disease.
"We are emphasizing the importance of getting tested for HIV and getting into care if infected," said Peter Carr, manager of the STD and HIV Section, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). "New studies show that HIV transmission rates can be reduced by 96 percent when infected persons get into care and treatment. As part of this year's observance, local agencies will be offering free HIV testing."
Nearly half of the total AIDS cases reported and almost half of the persons living with HIV in the U.S. are Black, even though they represent just 14 percent of the U.S population, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Minnesota, about one out of three persons living with HIV are Black, said state health officials.
"In Minnesota, our African-American and African-born communities face the most severe burden of HIV infection rates compared to other population groups," said Carr.
Statewide rates for African-Americans were about 12 times greater than whites and rates for African-born communities were 17 to 25 times greater than whites. Through 2010, there are 2,342 African-American and African-born persons living with HIV in the state.
"Contributing factors that lead to higher HIV infection rates among African-Americans and African-born communities include not knowing one's HIV status, and powerful social factors such as education, income, housing and neighborhoods," said Carr. "Lower income levels ultimately result in limited access to quality health care and access to HIV prevention education, testing, treatment and care."
Health officials noted that knowing one's HIV status, prevention education, avoiding or delaying sexual activity, decreasing the number of sexual partners, safer sex practices and getting into treatment if infected remain the most effective means of stopping the spread.
The STD and HIV Section at MDH currently funds 31 community-based programs aimed at preventing the spread of HIV in adults and young people of all races who are at risk of acquiring HIV.
The MDH website provides information and a calendar of local activities for NBHAAD at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/hiv/worldaidsday/nbhaad/index.html.
The MDH HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report-2010 report, which includes data specific for the African-American and African-born communities, can be found on the MDH website at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/hiv/hivstatistics.html.
Information about HIV is available from the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) AIDSLine, 612-373-2437 (Twin Cities Metro), 1-800-248-2437 (Statewide), 1-888-820-2437 (Statewide TTY), or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. MAP AIDSLine offers statewide information and referral services, including prevention education, HIV risk assessments, HIV testing and referrals to HIV testing sites.
Free downloadable campaign materials specific for African-American communities are available at: http://www.greaterthan.org and http://hivtest.org/stronger/. For more information about the NBHAAD 2012 observance, visit http://www.nationalblackaidsday.org/.
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In a proclamation marking this year's observance, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton calls for all Minnesotans to strongly support NBHAAD and to get involved with initiatives to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the African-American and African-born communities. To see a copy of the proclamation, visit the MDH website at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/hiv/worldaidsday/nbhaad/index.html.
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Community Event – Free and Open to the Public
"Changing the Course of HIV/AIDS - 1 Black Life at a Time" Community Event
10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., Tuesday, February 7, 2012, at Urban Research and Outreach Center, 2001 Plymouth Avenue North, MN 55411. Event sponsored by Turning Point, Inc., Minneapolis Urban League, Community Fitness Today, Broadway Family Medicine, Kwanza Community Church, National Black Alcoholism and Addictions Council, Inc., and the Minnesota Department of Health. Presentations, performances, exhibits and free materials will be available throughout the event. A catered lunch will be served.
MDH STD and HIV Section