National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an opportunity to acknowledge progress made in reducing HIV among Black people as well as an opportunity to increase awareness on the work that still needs to be accomplished to overcome structural barriers to HIV testing, prevention, and treatment.
Babafemi O. Taiwo, MD, is the chief of infectious diseases in the Department of Medicine and Gene Stollerman Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University, and the director of the Clinical Sciences Core at the Third Coast CFAR. For National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on February 7, he described the disproportionate impact of HIV on Black communities while addressing how to break down the residual barriers to end HIV/AIDS disparities in the AIDS Clinical Trials Group’s (ACTG) newsletter.
Citing data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Taiwo said:
“As recently as 2019, Blacks accounted for 13% of the US population but 40% of new HIV infections. The disproportionate impact of HIV on the Black community is worse in subgroups of men who have sex with men (MSM), cis-gender women, and transgender women, and is apparent across the HIV care continuum. Blacks have the lowest pre-exposure prophylaxis uptake rate and lag in other key metrics such as knowledge of HIV seropositivity and viral suppression rate.”
Disparities remain a barrier and are holding back further progress in ending the HIV epidemic, particularly among Black people. In the ACTG newsletter, Dr. Taiwo described what actions need to be undertaken moving forward to accomplish this year’s theme of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: “Together…We Can Make HIV Black History!”.
“The key barriers that have perpetuated disparities in HIV are well known, and the fact that similar disparities can be seen with other health conditions such as diabetes and cancer reflects systemic social, economic, and political drivers (which are seen in poorer indices on the structural determinants of health among Blacks in the U.S.),” said Taiwo. “The multi-faceted nature of the root causes implies that the solutions will have to come from different corners of the medical, social, political, and economic ecosystems. And each of us has a role to play. This includes the Black people living with HIV, who should not relent in the demand for equalization of HIV/AIDS metrics across racial/ethnic and other subgroups in the U.S.”
Read Dr. Taiwo’s entire piece in the ACTG February Newsletter.