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Black HIV / AIDS Awareness Day 2012

Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is Tuesday, February 7th. I reached out to the Fresno County Department of Public Health with questions regarding the annual event, as well as the current state of HIV/AIDS. The Fresno County Dept. of Public Health is located at 1221 Fulton Mall in downtown Fresno. Phone 559-600-3200. Links can be found at the end of this article.

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From the Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Website…

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was founded by five national organizations funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1999 to provide capacity building assistance to Black communities and organizations. The initiative begin in 2000 with these five key organizations: Concerned Black Men, Inc. of Philadelphia; Health Watch Information and Promotion Services, Inc.; Jackson State University – Mississippi Urban Research Center; National Black Alcoholism and Addictions Council; and National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day has been and always will be a grass roots effort,that is shaped around the needs of those communities that work hard each and every year to make it a success. Each year, almost 20,000 Blacks in the United States test positive for HIV, that is an alarming amount if you multiply it times the last five years alone – that’s 100,000 Blacks who are now living with HIV or may have died from AIDS related complications. It’s time for us to do something different that inspires young and old, gay and straight, religious and non-religious, etc. to get on board with realizing the value and worth of Black life and acting accordingly.

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Black HIV / AIDS Awareness day is Tuesday, February 7th. How long has this day, specific to the black community, been around?

This year will mark the twelfth annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

There are other HIV Awareness days specific to various communities. Why do we need such specific days of awareness?

The issue of HIV / AIDS impacts every community and is important to all of us each and every day of the year. But the sheer volume of information on this critical topic can be overwhelming.

An “Awareness Day” which is geared toward a particular population provides an opportunity to focus on questions and answers that are especially relevant to those persons.

Are there roadblocks within certain communities in terms of reaching out? If so, which communities are most difficult to reach out to with education and prevention, and why?

Challenges exist in the attempt to reach various populations in our community. The Fresno

County Department of Public Health (The Department) engages with a variety of partners, including but not limited to: media (television, radio, print) community-based and faith-based organizations, neighborhood groups, public and private health care facilities, and businesses to provide accurate and current information for consumers. The Department maintains an internet website at www.fcdph.org and social media venues are in development.

Collaboration with entities such as GayCentralValley is additionally valuable because of its existing and vibrant social media network (Facebook, Twitter). Among consumers in the community, “face-to-face” and “word-of-mouth” information obtained from reliable sources such as FC DPH and Gay Central Valley is also helpful.

One of the most difficult populations to reach, and one of the populations at highest risk, is that of Men Who Have Sex With Men, termed MSM. The Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention (CDC) has identified young, Black MSM as the population most severely affected by HIV. The Department and Gay Central Valley welcome suggestions on ways to engage with this group to provide information.

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We hear a lot these days about women in the black community who are being infected without knowledge that they’re even at risk, for instance women who are in a committed relationship.

In 2009, there were an estimated 11,200 new HIV infections among women in the United States. That year, women comprised 51% of the US population and 23% of those newly infected with HIV.

  • Of the total number of new HIV infections in US women in 2009, 57% occurred in blacks, 21% were in whites, and 16% were in Hispanics/Latinas.
  • In 2009, the rate of new HIV infections among black women was 15 times that of white women, and over 3 times the rate among Hispanic/Latina women.

What is the current state of HIV / AIDS in the United States? What groups are currently showing the highest rates of new HIV infections?

  • CDC estimates that MSM account for just 2% of the US population, but accounted for 61% of all new HIV infections in 2009. MSM accounted for 49% of people living with HIV infection in 2008 (the most recent year prevalence data are available).
  • In 2009, white MSM accounted for the largest number of new HIV infections of any group in the US, followed closely by black MSM.
  • Young, black MSM were the only risk group in the US to experience statistically significant increases in new HIV infections from 2006–2009.

The Fresno County Department of Public Health has recently expanded its days of free, confidential testing. What is the current weekly schedule?

The Department is located at 1221 Fulton Mall in downtown Fresno. Rapid HIV testing is now available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays 8:30 am – 11:00 am and 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm.

Anonymous testing is offered on Wednesdays 8:30 am – 11:00 am. For Anonymous testing, the person being tested need not give their name. Confidential testing is available on Tuesdays from 8:30 – 11:00 am and 1:00 – 3:30 pm, on Wednesday afternoons from 1:00 – 3:30 pm, and on Thursdays from 8:30 – 11:00 am and 100 – 3:30 pm.

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Since the process has changed so drastically from past years, what exactly does a Rapid

HIV test involve and how long does it take?

In the past, standard HIV testing methods took from one to two weeks to receive test results.

Rapid testing allows disclosure of test results in as little as 30 minutes.

What happens if there’s a positive result in the rapid testing?

With rapid testing there are two outcomes: 1) negative, no HIV antibodies were detected; and

2) Preliminary positive. A preliminary positive result must be confirmed with an additional test.

Confirmatory results will be available in one to two weeks.

What is the window period of possible infection, and how often should people be tested?

HIV tests are antibody tests. The term “window period” stands for the time it takes for someone who is HIV positive to develop antibodies which show up in the HIV tests. The amount of time required for this to happen varies from individual to individual. Most people will develop antibodies between 2 weeks to 3 months; while others may take up to 6 months.

Frequency of testing depends on individual behavior. It is important to test after engaging in behaviors known to have an increased risk for HIV transmission. These include: unprotected anal sex; vaginal sex; or sharing needles for injection drug use.

Does the Fresno County Department of Public Health also provide condoms and dental

dams at no charge to consumers?

Yes, the Fresno County Department of Public Health offers condoms and dental dams.

Consumers can visit DPH on testing days to pick up supplies or call 559-600-3434 for more information.

How can the Fresno County Department of Public Health help when someone tests positive? What about the partners of those who become infected?

When a client tests positive, the Department assists the client with referrals to medical treatment and Partner Services is offered. Partner Services is offered in three ways: 1) When a client chooses to self-disclose to his / her partner(s), Department staff counselors can offer support and information including testing information to give to the partners; 2) Dual disclosure occurs when the client informs the partner along with Department staff present and available to answer any questions that the partner may have; and 3) The Department can collect partner information from the client and Department staff will contact the partner, without telling them the client’s name, and refer the partner to testing or other services they may need.

Sometimes, Partner Services is a combination of these three options.

How does the new face of AIDS, specifically the fact that it’s become a manageable disease, affect the public in terms of protecting themselves? In other words, is there an increasing spike in unprotected sex because the threat of death has become almost invisible compared to what it was at the height of the disease?

In 2009, there were an estimated 11,200 new HIV infections among women in the United States. That year, women comprised 51% of the US population and 23% of those newly infected with HIV.

  • Of the total number of new HIV infections in US women in 2009, 57% occurred in blacks, 21% were in whites, and 16% were in Hispanics/Latinas.
  • In 2009, the rate of new HIV infections among black women was 15 times that of white women, and over 3 times the rate among Hispanic/Latina women.
  • At some point in her lifetime, 1 in 139 women will be diagnosed with HIV infection. Black and Hispanic/Latina women are at increased risk of being diagnosed with HIV infection. (1 in 32 black women and 1 in 106 Hispanic/Latina women will be diagnosed with HIV, compared with 1 in 182 Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander women; 1 in 217 American Indian/Alaska Native women; and 1 in 526 for both white and Asian women).
  • From 2006 through 2009, estimated diagnoses of HIV infection among women decreased from 10,851 to 9,973. It is unknown whether this decrease is due to an actual decrease in new HIV infections (incidence) or whether the decrease reflects HIV testing trends.
  • Women accounted for more than 25% of the estimated 34,247 AIDS diagnoses in 2009 and represent nearly 20% of cumulative AIDS diagnoses (including children) in the United States to date. There were 8,647 AIDS diagnoses among women in 2009 compared with 9,639 AIDS diagnoses among women in 2006.
  • For women living with a diagnosis of HIV infection, the most common methods of transmission were high-risk heterosexual contact6 and injection drug use.
  • In 2008, 4,796 (28%) of the estimated 17,374 persons with a diagnosis of HIV infection who died in the 40 states and 5 US dependent areas were women. Deaths attributed to HIV among women of color are disproportionately high: from 2000–2007, HIV infection was among the top 10 leading causes of death for black females aged 10–54 and Hispanic/Latina females aged 15–54.

In the United States, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) comprise the group most affected by HIV. MSM is the only risk group in which new HIV infections have been steadily increasing since the early 1990s. CDC estimates that MSM represent approximately 2% of the US population, but accounted for more than half of all new HIV infections annually from 2006 to 2009 — 56% in 2006 (27,000), 58% in 2007 (32,300), 56% in 2008 (26,900), and 61% in 2009 (29,300). Since the beginning of the US epidemic, MSM have consistently represented the largest percentage of persons diagnosed with AIDS and persons with an AIDS diagnosis who have died.

Among MSM in 2009, white MSM represented the largest number of new HIV infections

(11,400), followed closely by black/African American MSM (10,800) and Hispanic MSM (6,000).

Among all men in 2009, MSM accounted for 86% of new infections among white men, 73% of new infections among black/African American men and 81% of new infections among Hispanic men.

Young black/African American MSM aged 13-29 are especially affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. While HIV incidence was relatively stable among MSM overall from 2006 through

2009, CDC estimates that new HIV infections among black/African American MSM aged 13 to 29 increased 48% during that four-year time period, with a statistically significant 12.2% estimated annual percentage increase. The number of new infections in 2009 among young black/African American MSM was more than twice that of either young white MSM or of young Hispanic/Latino MSM.

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Fresno County Department of Public Health

www.fcdph.org

http://www.co.fresno.ca.us/DivisionPage.aspx?id=3590

Black HIV / AIDS Awareness Day Website:

http://www.blackaidsday.org/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Links

http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/us.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/aa/index.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/msm/index.htm

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