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How is HIV a social justice issue?

Some population groups, in particular African Americans, continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. African Americans have the highest rates of HIV and are more likely to die from HIV/AIDS than any other race or ethnicity. Environmental factors, such as housing conditions, social networks, and social support are key drivers of HIV, and discrimination and racism worsen the disparate impact of HIV on African Americans. These factors help shape a context of vulnerability that either contributes to increased individual risk of exposure to HIV or compromises the ability to protect oneself from infection.

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 for 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.

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