The day is observed annually on February 7. This year’s theme is, “We’re in this together.”
By Barrett White
In Harris County, nearly half of all people living with HIV are Black. Meanwhile, the Black community only makes up less than 20% of the population of Harris County. The importance of equitable HIV outreach in Black and Brown communities cannot be understated. This is why, on this day and every day, Legacy works in the communities most impacted by HIV to connect those at risk to PrEP, and those living with HIV to ART.
PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a pill that when taken as directed on a daily basis, will prevent someone who does not have HIV from contracting HIV by up to 98%, per the CDC.
ART, or antiretroviral therapy, is medication that works to reduce the HIV viral load in the body to an “undetectable” level – meaning that the virus is virtually impossible to transmit to another person. If a person living with HIV is able to remain on ART and keep their viral load under control, they can live a long, healthy life.
According to the CDC, the nationwide statistics mirror those here in Harris County. Black Americans comprise 43% of new HIV infections across the U.S., but only 13% of the population. Black gay/bisexual men bear the heaviest burden among both the African American and the overall population. However, over the time period 2010 to 2016, HIV diagnoses decreased 12% among Black Americans – which is a step in the right direction.
The first step, however, is getting tested and knowing your status. Legacy offers free HIV testing to those who need it. So let your loved ones know that we’re in this together – get tested and know your status today.