By Jueseppi B.
Ed. note: This was cross-posted from The Root.
Yesterday, on Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I had the pleasure of meeting with leaders who are doing outstanding work to prevent new HIV infections and improve health outcomes for African-Americans. We shared stories and discussed the importance of engaging everyone in these efforts, including faith leaders, educators, athletes, entertainers, artists, scientists, healthcare providers as well as friends, families, and neighbors.
This approach also reflects the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which calls for a collective response to the ongoing domestic epidemic, and sets specific goals with regard to addressing HIV-related disparities among African-Americans.
Our conversation was both sobering and inspiring. Sobering because of the challenges that remain in addressing the epidemic, including confronting the myths about HIV transmission and the virus itself. Inspiring because during our dialogue it became clear that these leaders are committed to breaking down barriers that impede our progress in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS.
Data highlight the urgency of this work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV/AIDS and nearly 50,000 people become infected with HIV each year. In 2010, African-Americans accounted for only 14% of the U.S. population, but 44% of new HIV infections. The majority (70%) of new HIV infections among African-Americans occur among black men, and are concentrated among gay men. In fact, young black gay and bisexual men who are the only group in the black community where new HIV infections are increasing. Black women represent 30% of new infections among African-Americans. Transgender black women are also at risk for HIV with as many as one in three in some studies diagnosed with HIV. And only 21% of black Americans have a suppressed viral load, the key health marker for HIV treatment.
Conclusive research shows that African-Americans do not engage in riskier HIV behaviors than other Americans. So why are HIV rates so high in our communities? One main reason is the lack of access to healthcare. As many as 22% of African-Americans with HIV do not know that they have the virus. Of new infections among youth, 60% are among black youth, and over half of all HIV positive youth were unaware of their infection.
Despite the sobering statistics, the group was optimistic about meeting the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Significant advances have been made in HIV prevention and treatment – getting tested is easier than ever before, and medications have extended the lives of tens of thousands of people living with HIV. In addition, the Affordable Care Act is dramatically expanding coverage of HIV prevention services and medical care for African-Americans – in 2014, seven million uninsured African-Americans, including thousands living with HIV, will have access to healthcare coverage. Already, the Affordable Care Act has extended coverage to thousands of young adults, and has increased access to HIV testing for millions of women without cost sharing. And because of the law, insurers can also no longer turn someone away just because he or she is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
We also discussed the ongoing importance of continuing the Ryan White Program, which provides vital care and treatment for people living with HIV who would not otherwise have access to comprehensive care.
Participants also pointed out that we must address more upstream issues, including increasing education and economic opportunity for all Americans, to turn the tide permanently against HIV.
They stressed the importance of addressing homophobia, empowerment of women and girls, and HIV-related discrimination in the broader context of our everyday lives.
We still have much work to do. Too many people have been affected and we must continue to drive our efforts forward to build healthier communities and reduce HIV-related disparities. As the day’s theme, “I Am My Brother/Sister’s Keeper,” attests, it will take the nation’s collective efforts, including on-the-ground grassroots advocacy, to reach an AIDS-free generation for all Americans. After our inspiring discussion yesterday, I am more hopeful than ever that we can reach that goal.
By Colleen Curtis February 09, 2013 The White House Blog
President Obama urges Congress to act to avoid a series of harmful and automatic cuts—called a sequester—from going into effect that would hurt our economy and the middle class and threaten thousands of American jobs. The President urges Congress to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction that makes investments in areas that help us grow and cuts what we don’t need.
Weekly Address: Averting the Sequester and Finding a Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction
Statements and Releases
Fact Sheet: Examples of How the Sequester Would Impact Middle Class Families, Jobs and Economic Security
Washington Post: First lady Michelle Obama will join some of Illinois’ most recognizable politicians and clergy Saturday to mourn a 15-year-old honor student whose death has drawn attention to staggering gun violence in the nation’s third-largest city.
But Hadiya Pendleton’s family says her Saturday funeral service won’t be about politics, but about remembering a girl who loved to dance, once appeared in an anti-gang video and died just days after performing at one of President Barack Obama’s inauguration events.
None of the dignitaries are slated to speak during the service. The teen’s pastor and brother will talk, and the musical group Pendleton was a member of will perform.
1,686 Americans fatally shot since Newtown.
More than 1,686, actually it will be more by the time you read this. In 58 days.
That averages out to 30 people a day. On Christmas, 30 Americans were killed by guns. On New Year’s Day, it was 58. On Martin Luther King Day, 28. Last Thursday was a good day — only 13 Americans were shot to death that day.
Click here to see Slate’s utterly breath-taking graphic of the gun-death tally since December 14, the date of the Newtown massacre.
- Call Congress: 202-224-3121
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- Find your Senators by clicking here (if you’d rather send an email, you’ll find that information here, too).
- Find your US Representative by clicking here (if you’d rather send an email, you’ll find that information here, too).
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