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Did you know today, February 7, is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day? Well, in the immortal words of the poet Biggie Smalls, “If you don’t know, now you know!”

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an integral part in our community’s fight against the spread of the disease. Unfortunately in the U.S. (particularly in the South) African-Americans make up nearly half of all new infections each year.

Let’s run down a few facts via Planned Parenthood:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans are the racial/ethnic demographic group most affected by HIV. African Americans account for almost half of all HIV infections in the U.S. (510,000 out of 1.1 million people).
    •  In 2010, African-Americans accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections.
    • Despite the drop in infection rate for African-American women between 2008 and 2010, women of color remain disproportionately affected by HIV. African-American women accounted for 64 percent of all new infections in women in 2010, and the rate of new HIV infections among black women was 20 times that of white women.
    • Men who have sex with men are severely affected by HIV, having seen a 12 percent increase between 2008 and 2010. In particular, young black men who have sex with men account for more new HIV infections than any other subgroup of gay and bisexual men.
  • In the United States, HIV infection rates remain highest in the South. Cities like Miami, Jackson, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge have some of the highest rates of HIV infection in the country — and the least access to affordable preventive health care.
    • The HIV/AIDS epidemic for African-American women living in the South is even more severe. They account for 71 percent of new HIV diagnoses among women in the region.

HIV is a completely preventable disease and yet Black folks are still becoming infected at alarming rates. Unless we get the word out about treatment and prevention programs, this virus will continue to ravage our community.

That’s where National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) comes in. Each year, the organization partners with community leaders, politicians, health care entities, and celebs to spread the word about the importance of taking care of ourselves. NBHAAD encourages those in the diaspora to get educated, get tested, get involved, and get treated. Through this four-point focus NBHAAD hopes we can stem the spread of HIV in the Black community.

Head over to the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day website to learn where you can get tested or host your own event to help educate others about protecting themselves.

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