HIV/AIDs Treatment Disparities Remain Despite Years of Declining Cases
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and advocates say barriers remain when it comes to testing and social stigma. More than 40% percent of people currently living with HIV are Black, despite accounting for only 12% of the U.S. population.
Laura Cheever, associate administrator with the HIV/AIDS Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, said viral suppression treatment, in the form of daily medication, has allowed most HIV patients to live a successful and near-normal lives.
"So it's no longer a death sentence," Cheever said. "So, that's really important. And second, that person cannot transmit HIV sexually to other people. So it's important both for their health and for our work towards ending the HIV epidemic."
More than 87% of Black Americans living with HIV/AIDs are receiving medical care and viral suppression drugs, according to federal data. Cheever added that is a huge increase from the number of Black patients receiving treatment in 2010.
In 2020, North Carolina ranked in the top ten states for new HIV cases among adults and adolescents, with more than 1,000 residents newly diagnosed, most of whom are Black men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cheever said an ongoing challenge, especially in rural areas and in the South, is encouraging people to get tested.
"One in eight people living with HIV don't know they have it," Cheever said. "So, we need better testing. And we need people to come in here and stay in care, we estimate that of the 1.2 million people with HIV in this country, 250,000 are out of care. "
According to research focused on the deep South, common barriers to testing include transportation, cost, not knowing where to receive specialty care, stigma, and fear of others in the community finding out.
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