African Americans and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy

Content From: Christopher Bates, M.P.A., Senior Advisor to the Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesPublished: February 22, 20122 min read


Christopher Bates
Christopher Bates

During this February’s observance of Black History Month, we have observed National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) and heard about efforts to eliminate viral hepatitis disparities among the African American community. We must also take note of the importance that the National HIV/AIDS Strategy places on addressing HIV/AIDS and its disproportionate impact on African American communities in the United States.

The Strategy recognizes that Blacks comprise the greatest proportion of HIV/AIDS in various groups across the U.S., including women, heterosexual men, injection drug users, and infants. It also notes the extent to which the HIV epidemic among African Americans remains concentrated among Black gay men, who comprise the single largest group of African Americans living with HIV. As such, the NHAS affirms that efforts to reduce HIV among Blacks must forcefully confront the epidemic among Black gay and bisexual men..

The Strategy calls for efforts to respond to HIV/AIDS in the African American community in order to achieve its goals. For example, to achieve the first goal of reducing new HIV infections we are asked to refocus our HIV prevention efforts, targeting resources appropriately to communities that bear a heavy burden of HIV, including African Americans. In a podcast this month, our colleague Dr. Kevin Fenton, Director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, spoke about CDC’s efforts to do just this.

The Strategy also established as a measure of progress toward its third goal --reducing HIV-related health disparities -- increasing by 2015 the proportion of HIV diagnosed Blacks with undetectable viral load by 20 percent.

All Americans will benefit the implementation of the actions detailed in the Strategy—from intensifying targeted prevention efforts, to establishing seamless systems to immediately link people to continuous and coordinated quality care when they learn they are infected with HIV, as well as efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. This month’s observance of NBHAAD is a reminder of the importance of persevering in these efforts.