Baltimore City Commemorates National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:

Michelle Mendes: Office: (410) 396-7286, Cell: (443) 862-0891

BALTIMORE, MD (February 7, 2017) – In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Baltimore City Health Department and partners across the city held a series of community-based testing opportunities and events mobilizing communities to get educated, get tested, and get treated.

First recognized in 1999, the theme for this year’s awareness day is “I Am My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper; Fight HIV/AIDS!” 

“The health of our city cannot be separated from the well-being of our residents,” said Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. “While there has been significant progress toward ending the scourge of HIV and AIDS in Baltimore, there is much more to be done to reduce new infections, eliminate disparities, and improve the quality of life for all our residents.”

An estimated 13,000 Baltimore City residents are living with HIV/AIDS.

Although African-Americans account for 62 percent of the population, they represent 82 percent of all people in Baltimore City with HIV/AIDS. African-Americans are also five times more likely to die from HIV than their White counterparts. Additionally, while the lifetime risk of HIV among all people in the US is 1 in 99, the risk for African-American men who have sex with men is 1 in 2.

“We are a city that believes that when there is injustice, inequality, or threats to hope and opportunity, we are obligated to act. In partnership with community leaders, our efforts have potentially prevented thousands of infections in Baltimore—reversing tragic trends—and saving countless lives in our city,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “We cannot afford to lose the next generation to this potentially deadly, but preventable disease. We must reduce the burden of HIV that African-American men, women, and young adults bear. It is a matter of health and social justice.”

Throughout the day, the Baltimore City Health Department and partners across the city provided free testing for residents. On average, the Baltimore City Health Department performs more than 50,000 HIV tests and connects thousands of individuals with HIV/AIDS to high-quality primary medical care every year.

Baltimore City was one of the first in the country to begin a needle exchange program. Following its introduction, HIV infection rates from intravenous drug use have plummeted from 63 percent of all new infections in 1994, to just 7 percent in 2014.

Additionally, Baltimore City has been awarded substantial funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support efforts, known as the IMPACT Campaign, to reduce HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender populations, with an emphasis on MSM of color.

The funding also supports the Baltimore City Health Department’s Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) program to reduce the acquisition of HIV. PrEP is a preventative approach to HIV infection that addresses risky behaviors and involves daily administration of an antiretroviral medication to prevent HIV infection if exposed.

For more information about Baltimore City’s HIV prevention efforts, please visit: http://health.baltimorecity.gov/hivstd-services/hivstd-prevention-program.

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