CDC Dear Colleague: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Content From: Demetre Daskalakis, MD, MPH, Director, Division of HIV Prevention, National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., RADM and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS, Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionPublished: February 07, 20224 min read


Cross-posted from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Dear Colleague,

Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). On this day each year, we celebrate progress in HIV prevention among Black or African American people (hereafter referred to as African American people). We also highlight the work being done to reduce HIV stigma and increase HIV testing, prevention, and treatment. This year on NBHAAD, we encourage you to join us as we renew our commitment to eliminating health disparities and promoting health equity.

In 2019, African American people accounted for 13% of the US population but 41% of estimated new HIV infections. While there was no significant change in estimated new HIV infections among African American people between 2015 and 2019, the annual number of HIV infections decreased among African American gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24. This may indicate partial success of focused HIV prevention, testing, and treatment efforts. However, there is still much work to do to reduce incidence and disparities.

Social and structural factors likely explain some of the disparities in HIV incidence. One measure of these social and structural factors is the CDC/ATSDR Social Vulnerability Index (SVI). This index considers multiple social determinants of health to characterize counties as more or less vulnerable to poor health outcomes. A recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report used this index to explore HIV-related outcomes. Data from the report demonstrate that African American people in areas with a higher SVI score were more likely to receive an HIV diagnosis compared to those in areas with a lower SVI score. This could be due to limited access to HIV prevention and care services, transportation services, lower income, HIV stigma, racism, and discrimination. The findings in this report point to the urgent need for us to expand and strengthen our HIV prevention efforts and reduce the longstanding disparities and inequities that affect African American people.

Through a whole-of-society approach to end the HIV epidemic, CDC is collaborating with partners such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address social and structural determinants of health and reduce disparities. These strategies are at the center of the updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), and CDC is committed to achieving the NHAS vision by reinforcing our current HIV prevention efforts and implementing new interventions that focus on health equity. Some of CDC’s HIV prevention efforts that address HIV among African American people include

  • Advancing the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative by making sure communities have the expertise and resources they need to address the barriers that contribute to gaps in HIV prevention and care.
  • Funding and supporting state, territorial, and local health departments and community-based organizations (CBOs) to conduct HIV surveillance and increase access to prevention services that reach populations most affected by HIV, including African American people. For example, CDC’s cooperative agreement program for CBOs will increase access to HIV prevention and care services for young gay and bisexual men of color and transgender youth of color. 
  • Identifying evidence-based interventions and best practices through CDC’s HIV Prevention Research Synthesis (PRS) Project. The PRS Project has identified several interventions for African American people, including Centralized HIV Services, the PrEP Counseling Center, and Project IMAGE
  • Equipping communities, partners, and health care providers with the resources they need to promote HIV prevention, testing, and treatment through its Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign. The campaign materials are tailored for specific audiences, including African American people.
  • Centering our work on health equity by developing and implementing strategies and programs to address health disparities through the Office of Health Equity.
  • Building capacity for HIV epidemiologic and prevention research in African American communities through the Minority HIV/AIDS Research Initiative program.

Today is an opportunity for us to celebrate progress in HIV prevention and reaffirm our commitment to making sure African American people have access to high-quality health care services. We call on you to join us as we work to overcome barriers to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment as well as systemic racism. Learn more about CDC’s efforts to address racism as the root cause of many health inequities and disparities.

We thank you for your partnership and ongoing commitment to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States. Help us promote NBHAAD by visiting our digital toolkit and downloading and sharing materials on social media using the #StopHIVTogether and #NBHAAD hashtags. Together, we can make sure everyone has access to the HIV prevention and treatment tools they need to stay healthy.


/Demetre Daskalakis/

Demetre C. Daskalakis, MD, MPH
Division of HIV Prevention
National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

/Jonathan Mermin/

Jonathan H. Mermin, MD, MPH
Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS
National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention