Dr. Cara JamesMore than 1.2 million people are living with HIV or AIDS in the United States – and almost 1 in 7 of them don’t know their status. African Americans continue to shoulder the heaviest burden of the disease, representing 2 in 5 of those living with HIV/AIDS nationwide. Consistent with the national average, 1 in 7 don’t know they’re infected.
This year, in recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on February 7th, we encourage all African Americans to join us in the fight against HIV and AIDS by ensuring that they – and their family – get covered, get tested, and get treated if needed.
The first step is getting covered. If you, or someone you know, hasn’t enrolled in coverage this year, there’s still time. You can enroll in coverage through the Marketplace until February 15th, 2015.
- Visit HealthCare.gov and start your application.
- Call the call center at 1-800-318-2596 to start your application, compare plans, or ask a question.
- Use localhelp.HealthCare.gov to find someone you trust to help you apply in person.
Because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), coverage is more affordable and complete. You cannot be denied coverage or discriminated against based on your HIV status. New financial assistance through the Marketplace can make coverage affordable. In addition, states expanding Medicaid can improve your coverage options.
Get Tested, and Get Treated If NeededThe second step in the fight is to know your status. Many Americans don’t know whether they’re living with HIV/AIDS. Even if you don’t have coverage yet, you should still get tested. You can find free, fast, and confidential testing near you by visiting https://gettested.cdc.gov/. If you are among the millions of African Americans who are enrolled in health care coverage, testing and treatment are more affordable and accessible than ever before. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, HIV testing is covered, with no cost-sharing in most health plans. You can also use your coverage to get treated, if needed. Enter your location at https://locator.hiv.gov to find treatment for HIV/AIDS and other services. Be sure to check that the provider is in your plan’s network before scheduling your visit. Once you’ve found the right provider for you, you can work together on any other health issues you have and learn how to manage your care.
If you have questions about your coverage or finding the right provider, help is available. Read the From Coverage to Care Roadmap for a step-by-step guide on how to use your coverage to get the care you need, at https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/OMH/equity-initiatives/from-coverage-to-care.html.The CMS Office of Minority Health is committed to eliminating disparities in HIV and AIDS. We encourage you to join the fight. Start today by putting your health first. Get covered, get tested, and get treated if needed.