CDC Dear Colleague: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day


Cross message of Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention

Dear Colleague,

Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). Every year on this day, we celebrate the progress made in HIV prevention among Blacks or African Americans (hereafter referred to as African Americans). We also highlight the work being done to reduce HIV-related 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 Americans made up 13% of the US population, but 41% of estimated new HIV infections. Although there was no significant change in the estimate of new HIV infections among African Americans between 2015 and 2019, the annual number of HIV infections decreased among gay and bisexual African men. Americans aged 13 to 24. This may indicate partial success of targeted HIV prevention, testing, and treatment efforts. However, much more needs to be done to reduce incidence and disparities.

Social and structural factors probably explain some of the disparities in HIV incidence. One measure of these social and structural factors is the CDC/ATSDR’s Social Vulnerability Index (SVI). This index takes into account several 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 demonstrates that African Americans in areas with a higher SVI score were more likely to be diagnosed with HIV 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-related stigma, racism and discrimination. The findings of this report underscore the urgent need for us to expand and strengthen our HIV prevention efforts and reduce long-standing disparities and inequalities that affect African Americans.

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

  • Advancing the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States initiative by ensuring that communities have the expertise and resources they need to overcome barriers that contribute to gaps in HIV prevention and care.
  • Fund and support state, territory, 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 Americans. For example, the CDC’s Cooperative Agreements Program for Community Organizations will increase access to HIV prevention and care services for young gay and bisexual men of color and transgender youth of color.
  • Identify evidence-based interventions and best practices through CDC’s HIV Prevention Research Synthesis Project (PRS). The PRS Project has identified several interventions for African Americans, including Centralized HIV servicesthe PrEP Advice Centerand IMAGE project.
  • Equip communities, partners and healthcare providers with the resources they need to promote HIV prevention, testing and treatment through its Let’s stop HIV together country. Campaign materials are tailored to specific audiences, including African Americans.
  • Focus our work on health equity by developing and implementing strategies and programs to address health disparities through the Office of Health Equity.
  • Building research capacity in HIV epidemiology and prevention in African American communities through the Minority HIV/AIDS Research Initiative program.

Today is an opportunity for us to celebrate the progress made in HIV prevention and to reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that African Americans have access to high-quality health services. We invite you to join us as we work to overcome barriers to HIV prevention, testing and treatment as well as systemic racism. Learn more about the CDC’s efforts to address racism as a root cause of many health inequalities and disparities.

Thank you for your partnership and continued commitment to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States. Help us promote NBHAAD by visiting our digital toolkit and uploading and sharing material on social media using the hashtags #StopHIVTogether and #NBHAAD. Together, we can ensure everyone has access to the HIV prevention and treatment tools they need to stay healthy.


/Demetre Daskalakis/

Demetre C. Daskalakis, MD, MPH
HIV Prevention Division
National Center for the Prevention of HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STDs and Tuberculosis
Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention

/Jonathan Mermin/

Jonathan H. Mermin, MD, MPH
Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS
National Center for the Prevention of HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STDs and Tuberculosis
Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention

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