Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus and Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Mark National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. - First observed on February 7, 1999, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an opportunity to reflect on HIV’s impact on the African American community, support those living with the virus and to encourage all to take a pro-active approach to their health. The theme of this year’s National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, is “I Am My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS!”

“For many in the African American community, the AIDS epidemic is personal. This year’s theme, “I Am My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS” is an important reminder that we all must play a role in ending this terrible disease and ensuring those living with HIV have access to life-saving healthcare,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), co-chair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus. “On National Black HIV/AIDS Day, I encourage everyone to take your health in your hands by getting tested and preventing new infections. Together, we can make our vision of an AIDS-free generation a reality.”

It is estimated that nearly 500,000 African Americans are living with HIV.

“African Americans are disproportionally affected by HIV/AIDS and carry the most severe burden of HIV among any other ethnic group in the United States,” said CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01). “Persistent poverty is prevalent in the African American community and socioeconomic issues often associated with poverty, such as limited access to high-quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education increases the risk for HIV infection and affect the health of individuals living with HIV and those who are most at risk. This HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we must recommit to our work and sound the alarm to our friends, family and loved ones to get tested and educated to stop the spread of HIV among our community.”

The statistics are stark and show a clear, disproportionate impact on the African American community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African Americans make up just 14 percent of the U.S. population but nearly half of all new infections occurred in members of the African American community. In fact, one in sixteen African American men and one in thirty-two African American women will be diagnosed with HIV.

“National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a day to rededicate ourselves to making HIV/AIDS a top priority for African-Americans and indeed for all Americans,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), who spearheaded the establishment of the Minority AIDS Initiative. “We must make it a top priority to stop the spread of HIV and tell our friends and neighbors to get tested. We must also make it a top priority to ensure that Congress provides robust funding for federal efforts to fight this devastating epidemic. We cannot tolerate funding cuts to essential HIV/AIDS programs like the Minority AIDS Initiative, the Ryan White treatment program, prevention efforts by the Centers for Disease Control, and research by the National Institutes of Health. I urge my friends in the African-American community and my colleagues in Congress to remain vigilant. There is more work to be done, and each of us must do our part.”

“After three decades of AIDS awareness, HIV/AIDS continues to disproportionately impact African American men, women, and children,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02), Chair of the CBC Health Braintrust. “African Americans are infected with HIV at a rate 8 times that of white Americans. And at some point in their lifetimes, an estimated 1 in 16 African American men and 1 in 32 African American women will be diagnosed with HIV. These statistics underscore both the importance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the particular relevance of this year’s theme, ‘I Am My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS.’ We must indeed keep fighting to better educate, test and treat our communities to comprehensively tackle HIV/AIDS. As Chair of the CBC Health Braintrust, I am committed to bolstering these efforts by working to strengthen HIV/AIDS legislation and grant funding, and promoting wraparound care and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS.”

For more information on how to get tested, visit https://locator.aids.gov/. To learn more about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, visit http://www.blackaidsday.org/.

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Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.