Since 1988, each December 1 marks, World AIDS Day (WAD), an awareness day aimed at commemerating the lives we have lost to AIDS over the years and to raise awareness around testing, prevention and reducing stigma.
Marked by the red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness, this year's WAD theme is “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation.” This theme emphasizes that while we have the tools to end AIDS, we have more work to do, especially among the populations where the disease is the most intense. Hopefully by doing so, parterning with organizations and achieving our goals, we could see a world with no new HIV infections.
This theme is extremely important to African-Americans, given that we disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS.
While African-Americans make up a mere 13 percent of the overall U.S. population, we account for almost half of all HIV infections that are diagnosed each year. Men who have sex with men (MSM), heterosexual women and young people are disproportionately impacted by the epidemic in our community. But don’t forget that heterosexual men and seniors are also at risk.
It’s also important to know that while African-Americans are more likely to get tested for HIV, we are still more likely to be diagnosed with HIV and AIDS at the same time than any other racial group, meaning we wait until we are already really sick to get tested.
But this doesn't have to be our destiny.
The most important step is through education and knowledge.
—Get an HIV test and know your status.
—Talk to your health care provider, health clinic or sex educator about safer sex methods and if pre-exposure prophlaxis PrEP is something you want to consider.
—Take your knowledge and spread it to your peers, family and community members, especially when they say something about HIV/AIDS is that inaccurate.
And while WAD is only one day, for the entire month of December, BET.com will provide you with up-to-date information and news about treatment, prevention and HIV/AIDS resources to better educate you about this epidemic.
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(Photo: Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal/LANDOV)