It is truly timely that the National Medical Association launches its “Because Our Lives Matter” Initiative on February 7, 2015, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, during Black History Month. We are grateful to our partners in research and development who have created an entire new generation of HIV/AIDS medications that have saved thousands of lives.
However, in remembering the more than 265,812 African Americans who have lost their lives to AIDS in America, we must intensify our work to increase voluntary testing, HIV awareness and provide those who test positive for HIV with the best possible care.
We applaud the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for developing some of our most effective HIV prevention campaigns and programs such as “HIV Treatment Works!”; “Start Talking-Stop HIV”; and “Testing Makes Us Stronger.” Bold HIV prevention messages like these need to be heard again and again, especially by our youth.
As the new executive director of the National Medical Association (NMA), I am determined to continue the Urgent Call to Action issued by our President Dr. Lawrence Sanders on December 1, World AIDS Day 2014. On this National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the NMA launches its new initiative and campaign, “Because Our Lives Matter.” Working in collaboration with our partners at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), this initiative incorporates the CDC campaign, “HIV Treatment Works.” The campaign will highlight national HIV/AIDS awareness days through a series of ads targeted to specific minority populations.
Implementation of our plan begins with the dissemination of new best practices for HIV/AIDS treatment developed by our NMA physicians. These best practices will be reinforced through effective training programs designed for physicians and the community throughout the NMA’s network of state and local societies.
We are committed to implementing Because Our Lives Matter: HIV Treatment Works!through our CDC Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative. Unfortunately, too many African Americans continue to suffer the burden of HIV disproportionately. African American women account for 13% of all new HIV infections and nearly 64% of all new infections among women. The CDC estimates that 1 in 32 African American women will be diagnosed with HIV during their life time. African American men account for 70% of all new HIV infections within our communities, and 73% of those are gay and/or bisexual. The CDC estimates that 1 in 16 African American men will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetimes.
Our new hope, vision and action will intensify our work beginning this National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, February 7, 2015. I envision a day when HIV/AIDS will no longer be a destructive force in our communities.