National Black HIV/Aids Awareness Day, testing outreach continued through Feb. 14
State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, and the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force observed National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which focuses on education, testing and treatment.
“National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is so critical in the fight to make new infections of HIV rare and the Black community has been so significantly affected with HIV/AIDS for many years for many reasons,” said PATF executive director Charles Christen. “Stigma still runs high and efforts such as this awareness day help break down the barriers of stigma.”
“In 2011, African Americans were 8.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV infection, as compared to the Caucasian population. That disparity should concern everyone,” Rep. Wheatley said.
The state House of Representatives recently adopted Mr. Wheatley’s resolution (H.R. 609) recognizing February 7 as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in Pennsylvania.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s most recent Integrated Epidemiologic Profile of HIV/AIDS in Pennsylvania, African Americans comprise 11.4 percent of southwestern Pennsylvania’s total population, but 44 to 46 percent of the region’s residents living with HIV/AIDS. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young African American men aged 13 to 24 years are driving a resurgence in youth HIV infection rates with nearly 1,000 new infections a month in that age group.
PATF will be canvassing neighborhoods in Pittsburgh to spread awareness of the health disparities facing the black community in the face of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. PATF will also offer HIV testing at area public housing communities through Feb. 14. This event will feature food and giveaways for those participating in testing activities.