Today is World’s Aids Day. We wanted to take this opportunity to raise awareness and encourage self testing. It is so important to KNOW YOUR STATUS.
HIV is short for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It’s the virus that can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life. So the BetterChoice here is simple. GET TESTED.
HIV remains a serious health problem. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) on average, about 50K people get infected with HIV each year. In 2010, there were around 47,500 new HIV infections in the United States.
CDC’s new estimates show that African Americans, more than any other racial/ethnic group, continue to bear the greatest burden of HIV in the United States. While blacks represent approximately 14 percent of the total U.S. population, we accounted for almost half (44 percent) of all new HIV infections in 2010.
• Black men represented almost one-third (31 percent) of all new cases. The rate of new infections among black men was the highest of any group by race and or sex – more than six times that of white men.
• Black women accounted for 13% and nearly two-thirds of all new infections among women.
• Hispanics represent approximately 16 percent of the total U.S. population, but accounted for 21 percent of all new HIV infections in 2010.
• Hispanic men accounted for 87 percent of new HIV infections among Hispanics in 2010. The HIV infection rate among Hispanic men was almost three times that of white men.
• Hispanic women experienced an HIV infection rate more than four times that of white women.
• Whites accounted for nearly a third (31 percent) of all new cases in 2010.
These HIV racial disparities are driven by a range of factors that disproportionately affect communities of color. One key factor is the higher HIV prevalence (proportion of people living with HIV) in our African American and Latino communities, [20% don’t even know they have it] which means individuals in those communities face a greater risk of infection with every sexual encounter. Other factors include:
• Stigmas and homophobia, which may prevent many from seeking HIV prevention.
• Economic barriers and lack of insurance, which can limit access to health care including HIV testing and treatment;
• Higher rates of incarceration among African American men, which may lead to concurrent relationships and fuel the spread of HIV; and higher levels of STDs, which can facilitate HIV transmission, in African American and Latino communities.
GET TESTED and protect yourself! Lets be smart about our health and HIV awareness.
Here’s what you can do to reduce your risk of infection:
Get the facts —Arm yourself with basic information: Are you at risk? How is HIV spread? How can you protect yourself? Take control — You have the facts; now protect yourself and your loved ones. Effective strategies for reducing HIV risk include:
Abstinence: The most reliable way to avoid infection is to abstain from sex (i.e., anal, vaginal or oral).
Mutual monogamy: Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid HIV infection.
Reduced number of sex partners: Reducing your number of sex partners can decrease your risk for HIV. It is still important that you get tested for HIV, and share your test results with your partner.
Condoms: Correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing HIV transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal or oral sex.
New, sterile needles: HIV can be transmitted by injecting drugs through needles, syringes and other works if they are contaminated with the blood of someone who is HIV infected. It is vital that individuals who inject drugs use only new, sterile needles, syringes and other works. Last but not least, start talking. Talk to everyone you know about HIV–friends and family, coworkers and neighbors, at work and at places of worship. Have ongoing and open discussions with your partners about HIV testing and risk behaviors. Talking openly about HIV can reduce the stigma that keeps too many from seeking testing, prevention and treatment services, and the support they need.
As always, thank you for time, love & support. We hope what we have shared has helped you. Be sure to share this info with family & friends.
-Eric & Maleka Beal
DID YOU FIND THIS INFORMATION HELPFUL? Receive more great tips and resources direct to your inbox when you sign up for our weekly newsletter below. Of course, we would love to hear from you! Be sure to leave us a comment & share it!!
Eric and Maleka Beal are health coaches and co-founders of BetterChoices, a health & wellness company and social community focused on educating, advocating, and promoting better health and wellness through lifestyle, nutrition, and fitness education.