WORLD AIDS Day on Dec. 1 is celebrated as a show of unity in the global fight against AIDS and to commemorate those who died from the disease. But after the day passes, many people forget that for those who are ill, AIDS is a reality every day.
Partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS have made dramatic progress on several fronts, but
startling statistics illustrate a stark reality for many African Americans. It seems for the last 20 years the barometer for African American HIV transmissions remain unchanged.
African Americans are only 13 percent of the U.S. population, but account for 44 percent of new HIV infection cases. Over the course of their lives, an estimated 1 in 16 Black men and 1 in 32 Black women will be diagnosed with a HIV infection.
In 2010, an estimated 16,188 Blacks were diagnosed with AIDS in the United States, a number that has slowly decreased since 2007. By the end of 2009, an estimated 250,745 Blacks with an AIDS diagnosis had died in the U.S.
Locally, a report released in 1997 by the African American State of Emergency HIV/AIDS Task Force convinced Alameda County to declare the nation’s first health emergency in the Black community.
This state of emergency still exists, and the task force, now known as BASE (Bay Area African American State of Emergency coalition), continues to work to improve performance measures in Alameda and San Francisco County, determined to see a change in how HIV impacts African American communities.
The theme of World AIDS Day this year was “Getting to Zero” – zero infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination. By engaging all parts of the community, BASE seeks to change and expand the dynamics of how services are delivered, beginning with HIV education, testing and linking those infected to health care.
In 2013, BASE members were instrumental in creating Alameda’s Faith Collaborative, to help pastors and ministers incorporate HIV/AIDS ministries into their services and places of worship year round.
BASE has also begun working with the non-profit, “AIDS for AIDS Africa,” to expand its speaker’s bureau. Through the bureau, HIV positive individuals are armed with the latest and accurate information and also are able to tell their stories about of how it is to live with HIV/AIDS, putting a face on the disease.
The speakers will go to schools, churches and other events. The benefit of seeing HIV as something that affects real people is priceless and for some life changing. BASE also released a health guide designed specifically for African American youth populations, and a plan for African American women health referral guide is coming in 2014.
The goal is to raise the daily visibility of HIV and AIDS, so that people understand that the epidemic is an ever-present problem. BASE is always looking for funders and individuals willing to contribute time, money and skills to help this movement.
For more information, contact Jesse Brooks at (510) 575-8245 or [email protected]