Washington, DC: The National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition (NBGMAC) recognizes the 13th Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with an urgent call for all African American gay men to get educated about and involved in fighting HIV/AIDS. More than 30 years into the epidemic, African Americans continue to bear the greatest burden of HIV in the United States. Blacks account for half of the more than 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, nearly half of all new HIV infections in the United States, and half of all those who have died from AIDS in this country.
Even though the number of new HIV infections remained stable nationally among all racial/ethnic groups from 2008 to 2010, the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released in January 2013 indicates that Blacks/African-Americans continue to be disproportionately affected by the disease. Black Americans account for 44% of new HIV infections, followed by whites (31%) and Hispanics/Latinos (21%). The report shows that the estimated number of new HIV infections was greatest among young men who have sex with men (MSM) between 13 and 24 years of age. Young Black/African American gay and bisexual men accounted for 45% of new HIV infections among all African American MSM and 55% of new HIV infections among young MSM overall.
While many challenges remain in our efforts to end HIV, the scientific advancements of the past year have generated optimism that achieving an AIDS-free generation is possible. If we are to achieve this goal, policy and funding initiatives must focus squarely on the needs of Black gay men and our communities. Our work to end HIV must include addressing the unacceptably high rates of unemployment, incarceration, homophobia and poverty among young Black gay boys and men. We must also expand our advocacy and mobilization efforts to assure that every young person is safe. Moving forward, we must commit ourselves to ensuring that culturally competent, high quality healthcare is available to everyone.
The HIV epidemic in Black communities across the United States demands urgency, especially in addressing the lives of young Black gay men. NBGMAC supports President Obama’s pledge that the lives of Black gay men matter. We urge every Black gay man to take five steps against AIDS today:
- Take an HIV Test.
- Learn more about how to prevent HIV infections to you or your partner.
- If you’re HIV-positive, seek the care you need to stay healthy.
- Get involved with a local organization to help educate your community.
- Write or call your elected representatives about the need to support HIV prevention, treatment, care and housing, and education services.