By: Harold J. Phillips, MRP, Senior HIV Advisor and Chief Operating Officer for Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America, Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This year’s National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) observance comes amidst a national dialogue on systemic racism and calls for a greater focus on equity in all our work. We should use this opportunity to examine and address historic inequities experienced by Black Americans. For the HIV community, this means working to understand and address the circumstances that put people at risk for HIV or that create barriers to HIV care and treatment.
Black Americans continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV compared to other racial/ethnic groups. According to CDC data,
- Black Americans represent 13% of the U.S. population, but 41% of people with HIV in the U.S. in 2018.
- 42% of new HIV infections in 2018 were among Black Americans.
- Among the estimated 161,800 people in the U.S. with undiagnosed HIV, 42% (67,800) are Black. That means that nearly one in seven Black Americans with HIV are unaware of their HIV status and are not receiving the care they need to stay healthy and prevent transmission to others.
Fewer Black Americans in HIV care are virally suppressed: In 2018, 60% of Blacks, 64% of Latinos, and 71% of whites with diagnosed HIV were virally suppressed.
The recently released HIV National Strategic Plan (HIV Plan) makes clear the disproportionate impact of HIV among Black Americans, and includes Black women, transgender women, people who inject drugs, and Black gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men among its designated priority populations. The HIV Plan notes that focusing efforts on priority populations will reduce HIV-related disparities, which is essential to the nation’s effort to end the HIV epidemic by 2030.