Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The Black Aids Institute along with every other major AIDS Service Organization is urging you to learn the facts about HIV transmission, get tested, get involved in your community effort to combat the disease and get treated if you're currently living with HIV or are newly diagnosed.
According to the 2000 census, blacks make up approximately 13% of the US population. However, in 2005, blacks accounted for 18,121 (49%) of the estimated 37,331 new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the United States.
It is no secret that gay black men and heterosexual women have been hit particularly hard by HIV. To add to an already serious problem black men and women are often diagnosed too late and either seek treatment too late or suffer from drug adherence.
Phil Wilson, director of The Black Aids Institute and a person who has been living with AIDS for over twenty years gives his secret to survival on The Body.com;
"The first secret is early detection, finding out that you need health care. Secondly, it's being an advocate for yourself. Today, as the result of the Ryan White CARE Actand other programs, it is easier to get health care than it was -- although it's increasingly becoming more difficult again. But, [it's important] to be a good advocate for yourself. To build a support network around you to help you to live with the disease. To make the decision that you are going to live. For far too many people, they don't make that as an explicit decision that "I'm going to live, so I'm going to do what it takes so that I can live.
I think that part of my survival is that, you know, I've embraced my reality. HIV is a part of me. It's not all of me. It's not the completeness of my identity. But it's a part of me. And I'm not trying to run away with it. It's one of the reasons why I say that AIDS in America today is a black disease. It's not only a black disease, but it is also a black disease. And black Americans have to confront that. Nobody wants to say that. Nobody wants to own that. Nobody wants to acknowledge that. And that silence is killing us."
But thanks to life-saving anti-retroviral drugs HIV/AIDS has become a chronic manageable condition and not the death sentence it once was. Testing has also become a quick and painless process with the implementation of the rapid HIV test Ora-Sure, results are given in less than thirty minutes, ending the dreadful two week waiting period of the past.
For those of you who are negative the goal is to remain that way, but for those of you who are positive the goal is to never lose hope, seek treatment and support and choose everyday to LIVE just as the brothers below have chosen to do.
To find a testing facility near you please click here.