February 7, 2013 marks the 13th year for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Blacks in the United States.
1. The day was founded by five national organizations and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1999 to provide capacity building assistance to Black communities and organizations.
2. The initiative begin in 2000 with these five key organizations: Concerned Black Men, Inc. of Philadelphia; Health Watch Information and Promotion Services, Inc.; Jackson State University – Mississippi Urban Research Center; National Black Alcoholism and Addictions Council; and National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.
3. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day began as a grass roots effort with hundreds of organizations registering events and/or activities to raise the awareness of HIV and AIDS in their communities. It is shaped around the needs of those communities that work hard each and every year to make it a success. Each year, almost 20,000 Blacks in the United States test positive for HIV. In other words, 100,000 Blacks are now living with HIV or may have died from AIDS related complications.
4. There are four specific focal points: education, testing, involvement, and treatment.
• Education. One important focus is to get Blacks educated about the basics of HIV/AIDS in their local communities.
• Testing. Testing is at the core of this initiative, as it is hoped that Blacks will mark February 7 of every year as their annual or bi-annual day to get tested for HIV. This is vital for those who are sexually active and those at high risk of contracting HIV.
• Involvement. When it comes to community and organization leadership, getting Blacks involved to serve is another key focus. We need Black people from all walks of life, economic classes, literacy levels, shades and tones, as well as small and large communities to get connected to the work happening on the ground in their local areas.
• Treatment. Getting those living with HIV or recently-tested positive for the virus connected to treatment and care services is paramount. We cannot lead Black people towards HIV/AIDS education, prevention, testing, leadership or treatment unless we love them.
And, we can’t save Black people from an epidemic unless we serve Black people.