In the United States, the Black community bears the greatest burden of the HIV epidemic, more than any other racial or ethnic group. While African Americans represent just 12% of the total population, they account for 41% of all people living with HIV and 44% of all new infections. In fact, if Black America were its own country, it would rank 16th in the world for new HIV infections – ahead of Ethiopia, Botswana and Haiti. Today, the HIV epidemic is one of the most pressing health issues facing the Black community.
To address the urgent need for action, The Black Church & HIV initiative was established to form a national network of faith leaders, religious institutions, and community members committed to making change and ending the HIV epidemic in Black America. There is an immediate need for faith leaders to take action for what is happening with HIV in the Black community. For generations, the Black Church has been a leader for change in the Black community on issues of social justice, including voting rights and employment opportunities. Today, we are applying this tradition of social justice advocacy to the HIV epidemic.
The NAACP, in partnership with Gilead Sciences, Inc., made a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action in 2013 to further the initiative and enlist faith leaders as change agents to address the disparate and severe impact of HIV on African Americans. The initiative is working to overcome stigma and address HIV as an issue of social justice by:
So far, we have:
We believe in social justice. We believe in a sustained commitment to create a society that is equal and fair for all people. We believe that health equity is a social justice challenge, and that no one should be denied the possibility to be healthy because they belong to a group that has historically been economically and socially disadvantaged.
On average, African Americans are likely to experience worse health outcomes than any other racial or ethnic group. As a high-risk population, African Americans are:
When we see anything disproportionally affecting one group of people more than others, whether it is poverty, education or health, we must question if the root cause has to do with social injustices. HIV disparities have more to do with the systematic realities of health care and society than individual or group behaviors. The high rates of HIV among Black people in the U.S. point to the overwhelming injustices in the political, healthcare, economic, and educational systems.
This threat to the survival and well-being of our community is a social injustice. HIV is impacting our community, and it is our responsibility to speak out and fight the systems that make and keep us vulnerable to HIV infection. We invite you to join our fight for a system that ensures that we all have access to the information, insurance, prevention, care, and treatment that we deserve.
THE BLACK CHURCH & HIV ADVISORY COMMITTEE
THE BLACK CHURCH & HIV AMBASSADORS
Visit our blog to read about the work The Black Church & HIV initiative is doing across the U.S. to fight the HIV epidemic’s disparate impact on Black America.view more ›