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February 7 is National Black AIDS Awareness Day

Inequity in Public Health Funding Continues as Substantially Higher Levels of HIV/AIDS Exist in Black Communities

February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). It is a day marked by the government and other organizations as an annual opportunity to help promote HIV prevention, testing and treatment with the goal of reducing reduce HIV among African Americans. Though national and local HIV prevention efforts are reducing the overall spread and impact of HIV infection among some African Americans, more progress and equity is needed as evidenced by the continual disparity of new cases in many communities…including those in Chicago. The most recent reports by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) from its 2018 Surveillance Report on people living with HIV/AIDS (with statistics from 2013-2017), demonstrate a continual and glaring indictment of racial inequity:

New cases of HIV in Chicago area (this is city and suburbs)

Black (non-Hispanic):  54.8%.  

Hispanic (non-Black): 21.0%White (non-Hispanic):  19.5%

New AIDS diagnoses:

Black (non-Hispanic): 63.5%.          

Hispanic (non-Black):  18.4%.

White (non-Hispanic):  11.3%

The rate of Black females living with an HIV diagnosis is 11.8 times that of White females.

According to reports issued by CDPH HIV/STI Department, of the $40.4M in grants it awarded in 2019, only approximately $1.55M was granted to Black-led agencies. Details of the CDPH provided reports show thatof the 13 categories in which funding was issued, Black-led agencies were awarded funds in only 3 categories. And, of the 88 applications submitted to CDPH there were 56 total grants issued, with only 7 Black-led service agencies being awarded, and 2 additional Black agencies awarded sub-contracts under White-led agencies.

“Though White-led agencies that were awarded funding are providing services in Black communities, the question has to be raised on whether the inequity in funding to Black-led agencies is a significant element in the racial inequity of the spread of HIV/AIDS,” said Creola Kizart-Hampton, founder/president, GreaterWorks! Inc. Hampton is a member of the Chicago chapter of Black Treatment Advocates Network (BTAN) and Chicago Area HIV Integrated Services Council (CAHISC) and provides integrated communications and public affairs consulting and services to multiple community-based organizations, including South Side Help Center and Brave Space Alliance. “Each year CDPH reports that the number of new cases of HIV/AIDS in the city has decreased — and that is indeed great news,” continued Hampton. “Yet, the incidence of new cases reported among the non-Hispanic Black population continue to be inordinately higher than those in Hispanic non-Black and White populations.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Black AIDS Institute (BAI) promote NBHAAD on February 7 across the United States. The government has selected the 2020 theme “We’re in This, Together” while BAI will be releasing a 50+ page report entitled, “We the People, A Black Plan to End HIV.” This report will primarily address the absence of the Black voice in President Trump’s “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America,” which primarily focuses on biomedical solutions versus addressing the social determinants of HIV/AIDS which include barriers like racism and sexism.

From a national perspective, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2017, Blacks/African Americans accounted for 43% of all HIV diagnoses in the United States and six dependent areas, despite making up 13% of the U.S. population.

For more information about Chicago’s HIV epidemic, please see the 2018 Chicago HIV/STI Surveillance Report.

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