Calls for expanded access to testing and treatment
New York, NY —(ENEWSPF)–February 6, 2015. Today, Planned Parenthood Federation of America marks National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (Saturday, February 7) by reminding people of the importance of prevention and access to health care in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the black community.
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the consistent decline in the number and rates of deaths among African Americans living with HIV between 2008 and 2012. However, despite the steady decline, African Americans continue to have higher death rates among persons living with HIV compared to whites and Latinos.
Statement from Dr. Vanessa Cullins, Vice President for External Medical Affairs, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“It’s encouraging that the number of HIV-related deaths is decreasing among African Americans. The CDC’s data also demonstrates that there is still great need to expand more access to critical HIV testing and treatment for African Americans. On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Planned Parenthood takes this opportunity to raise awareness around this epidemic and work together toward the healthiest generation of African Americans.
“We know that African Americans account for four in ten Americans living with HIV and nearly half of all new HIV infections. An estimated 1 in 16 black men and 1 in 32 black women will be diagnosed with HIV infection in their lifetime. Particularly in the South, more people are living with HIV and dying of AIDS-related complications than any other region of the country. The more accessible HIV testing and treatment is, the less likely it is that people will die from the virus. That’s why it’s critical for all people — no matter where they live — to have access to high-quality, affordable, non-judgmental health care.
“Planned Parenthood is proud to help people access a wide range of critical health care services — including HIV testing and safer sex education — every day in communities across the country. We will also continue to educate people about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, which has made millions more people eligible for health insurance and HIV care. Affordable health care is a matter of life or death — that’s why we work every day to transform our world from one divided by health disparities to a world united by health equity.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans are the racial/ethnic demographic group most affected by HIV. African Americans account for 41 percent of all the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S.
Despite the drop in infection rate for African-American women between 2008 and 2010, women of color remain disproportionately affected by HIV. African-American women accounted for 64 percent of all new infections in women in 2010, and the rate of new HIV infections among black women was 20 times that of white women.
Men who have sex with men are severely affected by HIV, having seen a 12 percent increase between 2008 and 2010. In particular, young black men who have sex with men account for more new HIV infections than any other group.
In the United States, HIV infection rates remain highest in the South. Cities like Miami, Jackson, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge have some of the highest rates of HIV infection in the country — and the least access to affordable preventive health care.
Among the 10 states with the highest death rates per 1,000 persons living with HIV in African Americans, seven were in the South.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic for African-American women living in the South is even more severe. They account for 71 percent of new HIV diagnoses among women in the region.
Under the Affordable Care Act, millions are eligible for health insurance and increased access to HIV counseling, testing, and care.
Especially important to those living with chronic medical conditions like cancer or HIV/AIDS, the ACA guarantees that no one can be denied coverage or charged more on the basis of pre-existing conditions. Additionally, insurance companies can no longer put a dollar limit on how much they will pay out for essential health benefits.
Planned Parenthood is among the nation’s leading providers of HIV testing. Last year, Planned Parenthood conducted 700,000 HIV tests.
In 2013, Planned Parenthood served more men than ever before — primarily for STD testing — as part of its commitment to expanding our reach, including to gay and bisexual men.
In 2013, Planned Parenthood health centers provided 700,000 HIV tests and reached 1.5 million people through education programs and outreach.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.