Working Together to End HIV in Black Communities

Content From: NIAID NewsroomPublished: February 07, 20244 min read



Health inequities and disparities disproportionately affect Black people and other historically marginalized groups at rates above the U.S. population average. These disparities include HIV outcomes. Experiences of racism, discrimination, and mistrust in science and health systems continue to prevent Black people from receiving quality HIV prevention, treatment, and care services. NIAID supports research centered on the needs and experiences of Black Americans to inform the HIV response. On the 25th anniversary of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, NIAID highlights two ongoing efforts focused on generating evidence to reduce HIV burden among Black Americans and increase the representation of Black communities and investigators in HIV science.

Integrated HIV Prevention Among Black Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men in the South

NIAID sponsors an HIV Prevention Trials NetworkExit Disclaimer (HPTN) study called HPTN 096: Building Equity Through AdvocacyExit Disclaimer, which prioritizes the health of Black cisgender and transgender men who have sex with men in the southern United States. A pilot study was performed and is informing development and refinement of the next phase. The study is planning to focus on five communities prioritized in the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative. HPTN 096 is examining interventions designed to address social, structural, institutional and behavioral factors known to limit access to HIV prevention and care. Key study interventions include:

  • Partnership with community leaders to advocate, educate, and mobilize local health and other service providers to achieve health equity;
  • Social media collaborations to develop and disseminate messaging about HIV viral suppression and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); 
  • The Culturally Responsive Intersectional Stigma Prevention (CRISP) intervention to train healthcare providers on how to support men who experience multiple layers of injustice due to racism, sexual stigma, gender nonconformity stigma, and HIV-related stigma in health care environments; and
  • Training men as HIV peer support workers to provide knowledge, and education on HIV-related topics, such as PrEP and antiretroviral therapy (ART), and direct participants to local resources. 

The main study outcomes will be measured by looking at electronic medical record data from participating healthcare facilities in the CRISP component to see if there are changes in three main areas: retention in care and viral suppression, PrEP uptake, and the number of Black men who receive services at these facilities. Other study outcomes will look at the implementation and potential impacts of each component of the strategy. A sample of participants will be recruited from participating healthcare facilities to complete surveys about their healthcare experiences during the study.

Increasing Representation of Black Scientists in HIV Research 

The Centers for AIDS Research (CFARs) are co-funded by 11 NIH institutes and centers, including NIAID. The CFAR Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Pathway Initiative (CDEIPI)Exit Disclaimer is a NIH-supported pathways program dedicated to increasing the presence of underrepresented minorities in the science and medicine fields. As CFAR scholars, the trainees receive educational and professional training at various academic levels including high school, undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral in HIV science. In collaboration with U.S. Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions, the CDEIPI establishes and enhances workforce development programs within the CFAR network.

Black History Month Spotlight 

The month of February also marks Black History Month. This post is dedicated to Robert Rayford, a teenager in St. Louis, Missouri who was the first known Black American with HIV. Rayford admitted himself into St. Louis City Hospital in 1968 after experiencing unusual symptoms which led to his passing in 1969. The particulars of his health condition remained a mystery for years until researchers finally confirmed the presence of HIV in his blood later in 1987. Rayford’s story demonstrates the complexity of HIV pathogenesis, and his experience informed early HIV research in the United States. Read more about Rayford’s story here

The 2024 U.S. government theme for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is “Engage, Educate, Empower: Uniting to End HIV/AIDS in Black Communities.” NIAID remains committed to advancing HIV science while improving the health outcomes of Black Americans affected by HIV. We extend our sincere gratitude to the community leaders and partners who make this work possible.