News Release
February 3, 2014

Contact information

Feb. 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in Minnesota

Free HIV testing and public awareness events planned

To call attention to the devastating toll HIV/AIDS has had on black communities, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) will be observed in Minnesota on Feb. 7.

Nearly half of the total AIDS cases reported and almost half of those 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). The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reports that 2,651 cases or about one out of three people living with HIV in the state are black.

"In Minnesota, our African-American and African-born communities face some of the highest HIV infection rates compared to other population groups. Much of this is due to their social and medical disadvantages," said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health. "It's important that we make HIV prevention programming and HIV testing opportunities as economically and culturally accessible as possible to these communities."

Health officials noted that the earlier someone at risk gets tested and gets into treatment if infected, the better their health outcomes will be and the less likely they will spread the disease to others. Local organizers hope to raise awareness about the current situation and will be offering free HIV testing opportunities.

The most effective means of stopping the spread of HIV include avoiding or delaying sexual activity, decreasing the number of sexual partners, always using latex condoms during sex, avoiding the sharing of needles or equipment to tattoo, body pierce or inject drugs, testing at least annually if sexually active, and getting into and staying in care if infected to achieve viral suppression.

Serving the most affected communities, the MDH's STD and HIV Section currently funds 21 community-based programs and the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health funds 6 additional programs for HIV prevention and/or testing work.

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 2012 MDH HIV/AIDS Surveillance 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: mapaidsline@mnaidsproject.org. MAP AIDSLine offers statewide information and referral services, including prevention education, HIV risk assessments, HIV testing and referrals to HIV testing sites.

Under the theme of, "I Am My Brother/Sister's Keeper – Fight HIV/AIDS," NBHAAD is a nationwide effort sponsored by the Strategic Leadership Council designed to encourage blacks across the U.S. to get educated, get tested, get involved and get treated around HIV/AIDS: http://www.nationalblackaidsday.org/. Additional free campaign materials specific for African-American communities are available at: http://www.greaterthan.org and http://hivtest.cdc.gov/stronger/.

-MDH-

Governor’s Proclamation

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.

Community Events – Free and Open to the Public

Friday, Feb. 7, “We Are The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For” NBHAAD Event, Minneapolis Urban League, 2100 Plymouth Ave. N., Minneapolis, MN 55411 (11 a.m. - 3 p.m.)
Singers, speakers, youth performances, drummers, resource tables, health snacks, raffles and free HIV testing.

Friday, Feb. 7, Minnesota AIDS Project NBHAAD HIV Testing Event, 1400 Park Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55404 (10 a.m. - 5p.m.)
Free HIV tests for walk-ins. No appointment necessary.

Friday, Feb. 7, Pillsbury House NBHAAD HIV Testing Event, 3501 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55407 (noon - 5 p.m.)
Free HIV tests for walk-ins. No appointment necessary.


Media inquiries:

Scott Smith
MDH Communications
651-201-5806