The LIAAC Blog

News and thoughts from the Long Island Association for AIDS Care

LIAAC Fighting Stigma and Marginalization on Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

By Dr. Gail Barouh

Black HIV/AIDS awareness day is a national HIV education, testing, leadership and treatment community mobilization initiative that targets Black communities. But it’s also an opportunity to talk about fighting marginalization and stigma. In our society you can be marginalized because you are black, you can be marginalized because you are a woman, you can be marginalized because you are part of the LGBT community and you can be marginalized because of the stigma of AIDS. Dealing with any one of these can be difficult. Now imagine dealing with more than one of them. If we truly desire to create an AIDS-free generation, it is essential that the unique needs of all people who struggle with marginalization be addressed to reduce new HIV infections and improve access to life-saving care.

The good news is that a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the number of new HIV infections among black women has dropped for the first time.

While there was a 21 percent decrease in the number of black women contracting the disease between 2008 and 2010, black women account for two-thirds of new infections in American women. HIV is still a serious issue, with an estimated 47,500 new infections in the United States in 2010.

Among all gay and bisexual men, blacks/African Americans bear the greatest disproportionate burden of HIV. From 2006 to 2009, HIV infections among young black /African American gay and bisexual men increased 48%. 

The CDC is using a new approach to lowering the number of new HIV infections and, hopefully, achieving an HIV-free generation. The five areas of the new approach are: Supporting prevention programs, tracking the epidemic, supporting HIV prevention, raising awareness, and supporting structural interventions.

Despite ongoing marginalization, people can show tremendous resiliency and courage in advocating for their own rights. They aren’t complaining about what’s not happening in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Instead, they’re developing better ways to bring us closer to the day when HIV is no more.

This is how we will truly end AIDS — one person at a time, one community at a time, always with a collective goal in sight. When we support organizations that fight stigma and marginalization, and when we address the holistic needs of those who are marginalized, we tear down the barriers to education, social capital, and high-quality, comprehensive medical treatment and care.

At LIAAC we are working to fight these barriers through project REACH where we offer risk reduction education and assessment, as well as referrals to primary health care treatment and community based services, not only in HIV, but Hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted diseases as well. In order to reach the black community on this national health day, we are ramping up our outreach efforts and have schedule many testing events for the week. For more information, call our hotline at 1-877-865-4222, or to find out where we will be offering testing, visit the events section of our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LIAAC.inc/events.

 

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