As New York’s goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by the end of 2020 moves closer to becoming a reality, we need to double down on our efforts in communities disproportionately burdened by the epidemic. The rate of new HIV diagnoses remains high among Black men who have sex with men (MSM), Black women, and transgender women of color. February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an opportunity to raise awareness and increase prevention, testing, and treatment efforts.
According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Blacks/African Americans account for 42% of new HIV diagnoses, despite representing only 13% of the U.S. population. Of the 37,832 new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. in 2018, almost one-quarter (9,499) were among Black MSM. While the rate of diagnoses among white MSM decreased 19% from the year before, the rate among Black MSM stayed the same.
There are multiple reasons for these disparities, including the fact that many people living with HIV don’t know their status, and therefore do not receive treatment and may unknowingly pass the virus to others. Another important factor is the high poverty rate among African Americans, which leads to limited access to high-quality health care and HIV prevention education, including information about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis). The New York State Medicaid Ending the Epidemic goal is to increase the number of Medicaid recipients using PrEP from 6,000 today to 30,000 by 2020.
We need more outreach in Black communities to ensure:
- Easy access to testing, so individuals know their status.
- Linkage to treatment leading to viral suppression, so that HIV becomes undetectable and cannot be transmitted (U=U).
- Access to and education about PrEP and PEP to prevent HIV.
Truly ending the epidemic means that all communities benefit from progress that has been made in HIV testing, prevention, and treatment.
The Black AIDS Institute includes information and resources
CDC Vital Signs newsletter focuses on ending HIV transmission
National Black Leadership Commission on Health champions health and prevention of disease, including HIV
Amida Care currently serves 8,000 members throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including people living with HIV/AIDS; people of transgender experience, regardless of HIV status; and people who are experiencing homelessness, regardless of HIV status. Amida Care is the largest Medicaid Special Needs Health Plan in New York. Please contact us at 1-855-GO-AMIDA to be directed to more health resources.