By: Jennifer McMillen Smith, MSSA, LISW-S, Division of Infectious Disease and medically reviewed by Ann Avery, Infectious Disease Physician at Metrohealth Medical Center
What are you doing for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day?
It’s on February 7 this year (that’s a Tuesday).
It’s not one of those holidays where you get a day off work and the kids don’t have to go school. It’s not a holiday at all, come to think of it, and that makes sense.
After all, HIV doesn’t take any holidays.
OK, you’ve got questions. Let’s run through them:
What actually happens on February 7?
That depends on you.
The whole point of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is spending 24 hours reminding everybody that HIV remains a real threat to people of color, especially African-Americans.
One out of 16 black men and one out of 32 black women will be diagnosed HIV positive at some point in their lives. The risk is even higher for black men who have sex with men, as the CDC estimates that half of all black gay and bisexual men will become HIV infected in their lifetimes. Raising awareness is one thing we can do to beat these stats — and help more people stay healthy.
Come join our private, stigma-free, supportive community.
Health management tools with medication & appointment reminders.
Social networking in a community conversation & private chats.
How can we engage people on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day?
You can post on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube – pretty much anywhere you hang out on the Internet.
The official hashtag combines the short form of Black Treatment Advocates Networks (BTAN) and National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD).
So, here’s your hashtag: #BTANNBHAAD.
Use it early and use it often.
Or, you can speak out in person or over the phone. Talk to a close friend, educate a family member, or call your Congress person and tell them why access to quality HIV prevention and care are important to you and your community.
The choice is yours, so engage in a way that seems right to you. Speak, draw, or write from your heart. Let your passion shine!
What’s the main focus for 2017?
Every year this day is devoted to testing, education and acceptance of people with HIV. This year the organizers of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day want you to spread the word on PrEP.
What is PrEP?
PrEP means “pre-exposure prophylaxis.” It’s a medication HIV-negative people can take to prevent themselves from becoming infected by HIV.
Remember, it does not remove all the risk. It’s only up to 99% effective against HIV,so you may still want use a condom or other safer sex tools..
Will posting this stuff on social media give away my HIV status?
Not necessarily, but it could. It all depends on how and what you post. Keeping your HIV status secret is totally OK. You shouldn’t go public before you’ve thought everything over a few times. Keep in mind though, people with and without HIV contribute to this campaign every year.
Thousands of people, regardless of their personal HIV status, have lost friends, co-workers, and family members to HIV. Lots of them will be observing National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in honor of the people who left us too early.
Celebrating on February 7 doesn’t mean you have to give anything away. It just means you’re doing your part to encourage people to get tested, learn more about HIV and PrEP, and help overcome HIV stigma.
Find out more about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.