Fraser-Howze strongly suggests that both Black women and men need to have a conversation about this virus that is affecting our community. She advised that, “Black women need to talk to each other about taking a test. If you’ve been sexually active ever, you need to be tested. Ten percent of new infections are among women over the age of 50. Black women are 16 times more likely to be HIV positive than white women, so we have to have that conversation.”
HIV is disturbingly high among Black gay and bisexual men, specifically in the South. “We have a state of emergency among Black gay and bisexual men in the South. We must address this because we cannot afford to lose another brother or another sister to an epidemic that we can test our way out and treat our way out,” Fraser-Howze explained.
For Fraser-Howze, it’s imperative that African Americans, in particular, find a way to move beyond the stigma and misinformation. The HIV expert believes we need to have “a family conversation” about HIV and AIDS. She went on to say, “We need to begin that in the schools, in the churches, in the community, wherever we gather to talk seriously about this epidemic. Thirty-six years is a long time for a community to be disproportionally impacted by a vicious virus that still has no cure.”
However, there is hope and it comes in the form of testing and knowing your status. Fraser-Howze proclaimed, “It’s time for us to come out of this, to test our way out of this and be very serious about it.”
The maker of the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, the first FDA-approved in-home HIV test, is working with BlackDoctor.org, the leading destination for Black health information and news, to raise awareness of HIV home testing and encourage testing among African Americans. For resources, FAQs and to purchase, visit www.OraQuick.com.