National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day reminds us why we must work together to eliminate health disparities in our community
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This year, as we celebrate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on February 7, Black people make up an even higher percentage of people living with HIV. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
Living through COVID-19, the worst public health crisis in more than a century – and its impact on everything from elementary education to agriculture – has shed light on the disparities in care that black people constantly experience. suffered.
Health disparities are the differences in health and health care between groups of people that result in a higher burden of disease for some. HIV is a stark example of the disparities impacting care that we have witnessed for more than 40 years. Due to disparities in health care, black people have had to bear the greatest burden of HIV.
Grassroots and educational efforts like National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (February 7) help close disparities, improve outcomes for people living with HIV, and slow the spread of HIV/AIDS, but these effort is not enough. The reality is that in the United States, black people have gone from 41% of all people living with HIV to 42% in 2018, although they represent only 13% of the population. This figure is going in the wrong direction. While we are on track to end the HIV epidemic for white men who have sex with men, that is not the case for black people. It doesn’t have to be, and with more awareness, collaboration and dedicated support, we can make a difference. We have a roadmap to achieve the end of HIV in the black community – and to do that, we must eliminate the health care disparities that keep it alive.
Government and the private sector cannot solve disparities in HIV care independently. This requires all of us. We must build on the progress we have made collectively, especially now that the momentum for change and understanding of these disparities is a topic of conversation among the masses. Addressing the persistent problem of health disparities is the focus of a new report sponsored by ViiV Healthcare, Achieving health equity: a roadmap to eliminate disparities. The report explores opportunities, such as expanded access to equitable health services and funding for other priorities, in a long list of benefits of eliminating health disparities. In addition, it offers a roadmap to achieve health equity and enable us to surpass the AIDS epidemic by 2040.
The report recommends a number of key actions that are consistent with the new HIV/AIDS strategy unveiled by the Biden administration late last year:
- Develop a coordinated response between agencies, institutions and providers in our communities
- Assess and restructure funding for health systems and individual communities over longer periods of time; and
- Place public health and primary care services (the institutions most accessible and familiar to our communities) at the center.
We now have the recipe for ending the HIV epidemic: knowledge, resources and partnership. With this new committed and inclusive national strategy, it is essential that we all work together to make the fight against health disparities an urgent moral, social and economic priority.
I encourage you to visit viivhealthcare.com and tell your friends, family and neighbors about HIV in our community.
The black community cannot wait another day. It’s time for less talk, more action now.
Marc Meachem is Head of US External Affairs at ViiV Healthcare.