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HIV/AIDS taking shocking toll on black community
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness
The scourge of HIV/AIDS, which continues to affect the African-American community disproportionately, highlights the importance of a comprehensive strategy to address the U.S. epidemic, federal public health officials recently stressed.
African-Americans make up 12% of the U.S. population but account for nearly half of all new HIV infections and almost half of all Americans living with HIV. In 2006, more new HIV infections occurred among young black men who have sex with men than in any other segment of the U.S. population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. That same year, black women acquired new HIV infections at 15 times the rate of white women. If African-Americans were a country, they would form the 35th most populous nation in the world but would rank 16th in the number of people living with the virus. The grim statistics were released Feb. 7, 2009, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day
To win the battle against HIV, it is crucial that African-Americans—and indeed, all Americans—get tested for the virus during routine medical care, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) urged. Of the estimated 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, one-fifth do not know they are infected, raising the chances of further spreading the virus and the likelihood of becoming very ill without treatment. Increasingly, scientific evidence indicates that beginning treatment for HIV as early as possible in the course of infection has advantages for infected individuals, their partners and their communities. NIAID also is conducting HIV/AIDS research specifically designed to benefit African-Americans. For example, NIAID is launching a clinical study in seven U.S. cities to explore multiple interventions for preventing HIV infection among black men who have sex with men.
"Studies such as these are designed to make the scientific findings relevant to the patient populations who need them," said Anthony Fauci, MD, NIAID director. "We strongly encourage African-Americans to join us in the fight against HIV/AIDS by participating in clinical research."