Thoughts on Black AIDS Day

Each year for National Black AIDS Day, we remember those who lost their battle with one of the worst diseases of our time. Since the virus emerged 32 years ago, we have fought a disease that sees no gender, color, socio-economic status or sexual orientation biases.  We are ALL affected, ALL impacted and we are ALL potentially susceptible.

Within the African American community, HIV has had an ever greater impact. Over the last 20 years, our community has suffered increased mortality rates from HIV or complications associated with AIDS. More than half of the new HIV/AIDS cases diagnosed are in the African American community and African American women account for more than one-quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses.

Stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS among people of color must be a top priority.  To achieve this goal, we must confront the issue head on in homes, churches, and communities and embrace this fight as one for social justice.  Last year, the NAACP released our Black Church/HIV Manual to give pastors the tools needed to engage congregants in the battle against the AIDS epidemic.  This year, we will continue to engage black churches on this issue with a multi-state tour.

We observe Black AIDS Day as a solemn reminder of the work that lay ahead.  Too many have lost their lives for us to not act now. If we want to bring the total number of new HIV/AIDS cases down to zero, we’ll have to address HIV from a social justice perspective, with focus on awareness, education and advocacy, which lies at the core of the NAACP’s mission and vision in the fight for equal rights.