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GMHC Statement on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

2.7.2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cub Barrett | 212-367-1561 | cubb@gmhc.org
Kenneth Londono | 646-335-0420 | Kenneth.Londono@berlinrosen.com

New York, NY--The following is a statement from Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) CEO Kelsey Louie:


GMHC recognizes National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day by encouraging nonprofit organizations and health departments to increase their partnerships for outreach to black communities, including promoting HIV testing, prevention education including usage of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), and access to care.
 
According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's annual surveillance statistics, black men and black women had the highest rates of HIV diagnoses in the city in 2016: Black men comprised nearly 39% of all HIV diagnoses among men, and black women comprised 59% of HIV diagnoses among women.
 
In recent years, an increasing number of studies and articles have cited structural racism as a major contributor to health inequities like higher rates of infectious and respiratory diseases, mental illness, and substance use. In an April 2017 article in The Lancet titled "Structural racism and health inequities in the USA: evidence and interventions," the authors reported "...that racism is a social stressor that operates through diverse stress pathways, including physiological, psychological and behavioural pathways. Experiences that are perceived as racist act as social stressors...can affect mental and physical health."
 
And just last week, the February 2nd edition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report featured the article "Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Sustained Viral Suppression and Transmission Risk Potential Among Persons Receiving HIV Care," in which the authors stated that "[a]dressing ongoing racial/ethnic disparities in sustained viral suppression is important to efforts to reduce HIV infections in the United States."
 
On the prevention front, in 2016, Gilead Sciences released findings from a survey conducted at U.S. retail pharmacies at which more than 49,000 people filled prescriptions for Gilead's drug Truvada for PrEP.
 
The study found that, among PrEP users with available data, most were white MSM (men who have sex with men), and that black people used PrEP much less often-despite having the highest rates of HIV infection in the U.S: "Data on race/ethnicity were available for 44% of PrEP recipients (n = 21,463). White people made up 74% of all those who filled Truvada PrEP prescriptions, with Hispanics (12%), African-Americans (10%) and Asians (4%) accounting for much smaller proportions. Further, the proportion of black people who started PrEP actually dropped, from 12% in 2012 to 10% in 2015."
 
Women comprised 21% of those who started PrEP overall, according to the report, but "black women were more than four times less likely than white women to have started PrEP."
 
As we continue to work to achieve New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's pledge to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic in New York State by 2020, we must continue to address racism, stigma, discrimination, and other critical factors that create barriers in our communities for overall health and well-being. We must also address access and adherence to PrEP--a proven prevention tool-among all vulnerable populations, but specifically among black populations.
 
GMHC will continue this kind of important work, and we stand with the black community and all other communities affected by HIV/AIDS to end this epidemic once and for all.
 

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About Gay Men's Health Crisis: Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is the world's first HIV/AIDS service organization. GMHC is on the front lines providing services to over 12,000 people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Programs include: testing, prevention, nutrition, legal, supportive housing, mental health and substance use services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state and federal levels with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic. For more information, visit  www.gmhc.org.