In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Feb. 7, the Baltimore City Health Department and partners across the city held a series of community-based testing opportunities and events mobilizing communities to get educated, tested and treated.
First recognized in 1999, the theme for this year’s awareness day was “I Am My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper; Fight HIV/AIDS!”
“The health of our city cannot be separated from the well-being of our residents,” said Mayor Catherine Pugh. “While there has been significant progress toward ending the scourge of HIV and AIDS in Baltimore, there is much more to be done to reduce new infections, eliminate disparities, and improve the quality of life for all our residents.”
An estimated 13,000 Baltimore City residents are living with HIV/AIDS.
Although African Americans account for 62 percent of the population, they represent 82 percent of all people in Baltimore City with HIV/AIDS. African Americans are also five times more likely to die from HIV than their white counterparts. Additionally, while the lifetime risk of HIV among all people in the U.S. is 1 in 99, the risk for African-American men who have sex with men is 1 in 2.
Baltimore City has been awarded substantial funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support efforts, known as the IMPACT Campaign, to reduce HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender populations, with an emphasis on MSM of color.
The funding also supports the Baltimore City Health Department’s Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) program to reduce the acquisition of HIV. PrEP is a preventative approach to HIV infection that addresses risky behaviors and involves daily administration of an antiretroviral medication to prevent HIV infection.