February 7th has been designated as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), a day coordinated by the Strategic Leadership Council, a component of CDC (The Center for Disease Control). The council collaborates with local agencies and health departments Nationwide to spread the word about HIV through education, the importance of testing, how to become involved in your community and provide updates on treatments among Black communities. Statistics show that while 15% of the population of Florida is comprised of Blacks, Blacks make up more than 42% of the HIV Cases in Florida. * ( SID report FDOH, 2016 Statistics) Another way to look at infection rates would be to state that 1 in 47 blacks had HIV compared to 1 in 284 whites.
These numbers are hard to report but true. Our community continues to stigmatize and shame ourselves and the fear of knowing if we could be positive sets in. We reject the possibilities, we reject the education available to us, we reject treatment options and as a result the disease continues to plague our community. It’s time we stand up and face the issue head on. Challenge our brothers and sisters to go against past ideas, handle our future head on, take our healthcare into our own hands and believe that one voice can make a difference. Allow our communities to address the stigma, embrace the challenges ahead of us. All it takes is one. It is easy to know your options, once you know your status. What legacy do you want to leave for future generations? As we advance in technology, and education, testing has also become more advanced, easier, faster, affordable and in some cases FREE. Being tested and getting your result can be done in the same day. HIV testing can be performed using blood, oral fluid and even urine. Testing is performed using your antibodies; there is also a combination or fourth generation testing kits and (NAT) or nucleic acid tests.
Every year at the close of the New Year, We make resolutions to “Do Better” in some aspect of our personal and or professional life. How about this New Year, we keep that promise and get tested. Know your status. For more information please check out the website www.floridahealth.gov or contact your local Health Department or HIV/AIDS Service organization.
Our featured writer, Yolanda Miller, is the Former HIV/ AIDS Program Manager for District 2B, the former TB/ Refugee Program Manager for Duval County and holds a Master’s Degree in Education. Her passion includes educating others on the importance of healthcare management, especially in the areas of sexual health.