National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day takes place Thursday, Feb. 7. AIDS Action will mark the occasion with two events designed to raise awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS in the Black community, as well as free HIV testing.
HIV tests will be provided at The MALE Center at 571 Columbus Ave. in the South End from noon to 8 p.m. Results are provided immediately after being tested.
Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, a CDC-trained epidemiologist and practicing infectious disease physician, will lead a luncheon presentation about HIV prevention and care in the Black community. Dr. Fitzpatrick was recently featured in the PBS Frontline documentary “ENDGAME: AIDS in Black America.” The luncheon will take place at 1pm at AIDS Action Committee, 75 Amory St., Jamaica Plain. The event is free and open to the public.
AIDS Action Committee Educator Larry Day will lead “Coming Out of the Dark: Embracing the Invisible Black Man,” a panel discussion about outreach strategies to Black men who have sex with men. Cambridge City Councilor Ken Reeves will speak and panelists include Lonnie McAdoo from the Department of Public Health; Erlinda Bodden from Cambridge Health Alliance; and Tom Bardwell from the Center for Social Innovation and Mass Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth. The discussion takes place from 10am-1pm at Cambridge Community Television Studios, 438 Mass Ave., Cambridge. The event is free and open to the public.
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was created in 1999 and continues as a part of a national initiative to increase education, testing, involvement, and treatment among Blacks and African Americans.
“African Americans and other Black populations are disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS. There are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, and nearly half of them are Black even though Black Americans represent only 12 percent of the U.S. population,” said Rebecca Haag, President & CEO of AIDS Action Committee. “That disparity among infections also exists in Massachusetts, where Blacks make up only six percent of the state population, but comprise 29 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS.”
AIDS Action currently provides services to one-in-six people in Massachusetts living with a diagnosis of HIV, and 40 percent of the agency’s clients are Black. Since 1999, working with our partners around the state, AIDS Action has helped reduce new HIV diagnoses in Massachusetts by 53%, which has meant that nearly 6,000 people who might otherwise have become HIV positive have remained negative, and more than $2 billion in health care costs will be saved. AIDS Action has done this by targeting those populations most vulnerable to HIV infection, including US and non-US born Black women, Black gay and bisexual men, and Black transgender women.