Statement of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, February 7, 2010
On Sunday, February 7, the country will commemorate the tenth annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It's a day that reminds us that HIV/AIDS is still a public health crisis in the US. And it's a day when communities and organizations across the country come together to recognize the impact this disease has had on the African American community.
African Americans make up almost half of Americans living with HIV/AIDS today. Blacks represent 12 percent of the population, but account for nearly fifty percent of new HIV infections. In their lifetimes, 1 in 16 African-American men and 1 in 30 African-American women will get an HIV diagnosis.
These are not just startling statistics--these numbers represent people we know and love: neighbors, friends, members of our families and our faith communities. And it's time that we as a nation take action: to improve care and treatment for those who are HIV positive and to strengthen our prevention efforts to stop the spread of HIV.
President Obama has made domestic HIV/AIDS a priority. He has set goals of reducing HIV incidence, increasing access to care and improving health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities. His 2011 budget includes more than $3 billion, an increase of $70 million, for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to enhance HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment. The budget also focuses on HIV testing among high-risk groups, including men who have sex with men, African Americans, and Hispanics.
Later this year, the Administration will roll out a National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which is being developed with input from care providers, advocacy groups, and people living with HIV/AIDS. The Department of Health and Human Services will play a large role in implementing this strategy, which will guide our HIV prevention, care, research, and treatment efforts.
Part of the challenge we face is that too many Americans aren't as worried about HIV/AIDS as they used to be. Even though new infections are holding steady, the share of Americans who say they are afraid of being infected has dropped. To reverse this trend, we're working through the CDC and other federal initiatives to increase awareness about how to prevent HIV. We're reaching out to the whole country, and focusing on groups at disproportionate risk that have been underserved in the past, including racial and ethnic minorities, women, and gay and bisexual men.
We also know that, despite our best efforts, HIV/AIDS still carries a stigma. In some communities, Americans are afraid to be tested because they fear the discrimination associated with HIV. Last year, we struck a big blow against this stigma when we eliminated the ban that prevented people who were HIV positive from entering the United States. And we're proud that this change will allow us to welcome the International AIDS Conference back to the United States in 2012. But there is still more work to do in this area.
The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be routinely tested for HIV. To find out where to go in your area for HIV counseling and testing, log on to www.hivtest.org or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636). You can also send a text message with your ZIP code to "KNOWIT" (566948), and you will get a text message with information on nearby testing centers.
For more information about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and efforts across government to stop the spread of HIV, visit www.aids.gov.