On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, February 7th, Rep. John Lewis urges all African Americans to know their status. Of the 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV—including 500,000 African Americans—nearly 1 in 8 are unaware of their infection.
Half of the patients diagnosed with HIV in Grady Memorial Hospital’s emergency room testing program are found to be late or end stage HIV or AIDS cases. The 2016 theme, I AM MY BROTHERS’ AND SISTERS’ KEEPER, is a call to each of us to act on our responsibility to support and serve one another in the effort to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS.
“Your life is precious,” said Rep. Lewis. “Testing is easy and simple. Do it now. AIDS no longer needs to be a death sentence. Today it is treated more like a chronic disease. Getting tested early can free you to still have a productive and meaningful life. Get educated, get tested, get treated. Do it now. Do it today.”
HIV and AIDS disproportionately affects African Americans at every stage of the illness from infection to death. Stigma, guilt, homophobia, public policy, and discrimination affect whether people are able to receive high-quality health services, including HIV testing, treatment, and other prevention services. African American women are infected at 20 times the rate of white women, while African American men are infected at seven times the rate of white men.
“Knowing your status, advocacy, funding and treatment are the first steps toward the eradication of this deadly disease. Do your part. Do it today.”