The Black AIDS Institute

HIV/AIDS is more prevalent among the African-American community than any other community in the United States. “The rate of new HIV infection in African Americans is 8 times that of whites based on population size.” [1] African Americans account for 14 percent of the U.S. population, but yet still make up a majority of HIV/AIDS cases and infections. [2] Why is that? Could it be that African Americans are not educated on the disease and its risks? Or could it be that there is not enough health support within African American communities to help people at risk? Or could it be both social and economic factors within African American communities? More and more so today, organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been committed to tackling these very same questions and taking action within the African American community to bring support, health support, awareness, and resources. Another one of these organizations, the Black AIDS Institute, also works within the African American community and approaches the issue with a completely black point of view.

The Black AIDS Institute, founded in May 1999, is a HIV/AIDS organization focused exclusively on black people. The mission “is to stop the AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV. The Institute interprets public and private sector HIV policies, conducts trainings, offers technical assistance, disseminates information and provides advocacy mobilization…” [3] Some other ways the institution provides support is through several programs and event, such as African American HIV University, Positively Out and Heroes in the Struggle.

national-black-aids-day

The African American HIV University is a program “intended to change cultural norms and perceptions in the Black community around access to and utilization of HIV prevention services and strengthen Black organization and individual capacity to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in their communities.” [4] Within the University, there are two Colleges, the AAHU Science and Treatment College and the AAHU Community Mobilization College. The former is a program focused on increasing the scientific, treatment and prevention literacy of HIV/AIDS to African Americans so that they will be able to both protect themselves from infection and from passing on the infection. The latter is a program that explores the cultural barriers and regional barriers of African Americans combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This program seeks out people to become community leaders to mobilize other individuals and institutions to end the AIDS epidemic in their communities.

Positively Out is a program that plays an encouraging and supportive role to individuals living with HIV/AIDS who have not yet disclosed their status. “Recognizing the difficulty around the disclosure process, Positively Out confronts the issues and barriers that PLWHA have to face such as stigma, criminalization, public deformation, discrimination, rejection, lack of support and limited access to positive networks.” [5] Through first hand personal stories, resource guides, support groups, apps, and social media, Positively Out helps build a community where people living with HIV/AIDS can help other people living with HIV/AIDS empower each other, support each other, and inform each other about the disclosure process.

Heroes in the Struggle is an annual event put on by the Black AIDS Institute that recognizes people who have made an impact in the fight against HIV/AIDS. I think it is important to have organizations, such as the Black AIDS Institute that not only provides resources and support to African-Americans, but also recognizes people for their hard work because it shows how much an organization cares about the people it supports and caters to.

HIV/AIDS is a very serious problem within the African American community and it is organizations like the Black AIDS Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will help end this horrible epidemic. They recognize the problems, understand what limited resources African American communities may have, and are fully committed to the cause. It is important organizations such as these continue because without a doubt, they will conquer the disease.

 

 

 

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “HIV Among African Americans,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/racialethnic/aa/facts/index.html

[2] Avert, “HIV & AIDS Among African Americans,” Averting HIV and AIDS, http://www.avert.org/hiv-aids-among-african-americans.htm

[3] The Black AIDS Institute, “About Us,” The Black AIDS Institute, https://www.blackaids.org/aboutus/the-institute

[4] The Black AIDS Institute, “Programs,” The Black Aids Institute, https://www.blackaids.org/programs/african-american-hiv-university

[5] Ibid., https://www.blackaids.org/programs/positively-out

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