It’s time to address disparities and help end the HIV epidemic in Chicago and beyond

SHARE It’s time to address disparities and help end the HIV epidemic in Chicago and beyond
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Although the US is making important progress in improving HIV outcomes, significant challenges remain.¹ The HIV epidemic continues to be disproportionately challenging for Black communities, with racism, systemic inequities, social and economic marginalization and other longstanding barriers that contribute to these disparities.² In 2020, non-Hispanic Black individuals accounted for 55% of new HIV diagnoses in the Chicago area, according to the Chicago Department of Health.³ The COVID-19 pandemic in the US led to disruptions in HIV prevention nationally, with 44% fewer HIV tests being administered among Black Americans in nonhealthcare settings in 2020 compared to 2019.²

February 7 is Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an important opportunity to recognize the major strides made by this community in combatting the inequities and barriers to HIV prevention and care. However, it also serves as a reminder for all to prioritize HIV testing as a key piece of HIV prevention and management. HIV testing is an essential part of self-care, and empowers people to confidently take action through knowing their HIV status.

HIV testing is for everyone – the CDC recommends people between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine healthcare, and some people may benefit from getting tested more often.⁴ No matter your HIV test results, you have options. Therefore, all adults can benefit from getting screened and knowing their HIV status.

“In our efforts to get to zero and end the HIV epidemic, we must continue to increase awareness and refocus attention on HIV testing and treatment, especially among those most disproportionately impacted such as the Black community,” said Dr. Cynthia Tucker, SVP of Community Partnerships, AIDS Foundation Chicago. “It is critical to address the social determinants of health including mental health, structural racism, poverty, incarceration and stigma. Moreover, all program offerings must have bundled interventions to address these conditions and produce better outcomes to help individuals thrive.”

To encourage and facilitate HIV testing, Gilead Sciences launched Press Play, a resource to encourage screening as part of routine self-care and to help deter negative emotions or stigma associated with HIV testing. Additionally, Press Play provides information about what you can expect during an HIV test, next steps to take after a test, and other tools including options for finding an HIV testing site or ordering free, at-home tests.

While it’s natural to feel nervous about getting tested for HIV, there is power in knowing your HIV status. Now is the time to join together to end the HIV epidemic in Chicago and beyond, beginning with prioritizing HIV testing in our communities. To learn more about HIV testing, or find resources near you, visit www.hivtestnow.com.

¹ The White House. National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States 2022-2023. Published 2021. Accessed January 12, 2023. https://files.hiv.gov/s3fs-public/NHAS-2022-2025.pdf

² Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NCHHSTP Newsroom: HIV and Black/African American People in the U.S. Updated July 6, 2022. Accessed January 12, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/fact-sheets/hiv/black-african-american-factsheet.html

³ Chicago Department of Public Health. HIV+STI Data Report. Published September 2022. Accessed January 12, 2023. https://www.chicago.gov/content/dam/city/depts/cdph/HIV_STI/CDPH_HIVSTI_DataReport_09-2022.pdf

⁴ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV: Getting tested. Updated June 22, 2022. Accessed January 12, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/hiv-testing/getting-tested.html

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