National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was first observed on February 7th of 1999. Its purpose was to educate and bring awareness to the HIV/AIDS epidemic within the African American community. It is vital that we continue with this purpose especially when it comes to African American men of color who are MSM (men who have sex with men). Young Black MSM are severely affected and now account for more new infections (4,800 in 2010) than any other subgroup by race/ethnicity, age, and sex. There are many reasons as to why the numbers are so high in this community.
Some of it is due to stigma (fear of disclosing risk behavior or sexual orientation may prevent young MSM of color to seek testing, treatment and other services), socioeconomic factors (high levels of poverty, racial discrimination, lack of access to healthcare, and higher rates of incarceration), and complacency and decreased worry about HIV in the general population. These are all barriers that we should all be fighting to breakdown, each of us have a role in the fight against HIV/AIDS in our communities. We must be willing to set aside our differences and move towards the goal of no new HIV infections. We encourage everyone to join the fight by either educating themselves or someone else. For more information please contact the Greater Columbus Mpowerment Center on our website or by phone at 614-926-4132.