This May the Black AIDs Institute (BAI) announced the imminent launch of the “30 Days of HIV” program, a new initiative to fight both the spread and stigma of HIV in the Black community. The project will conclude on June 27, National HIV Testing Day.
The Los Angeles-based think tank is dedicated to the issues of HIV/AIDs in black communities, and it’s the only organization of its kind operating on the national level. Starting on May 27, the group plans to roll out the month-long campaign to raise awareness of the disease, the people in the black community most likely to be affected, and the organizations that serve the black community. To do that, the BAI will be using three separate platforms.
The first will be an online community calendar for health and HIV-related events geared towards the black community, curated in collaboration with other prominent black community groups such as Revolution in Color and Black Treatment Advocacy Network.
The second will be a daily photography series, “In The Life,” which will tell the stories of trans, bisexual, gay, and queer men. The series will be styled after the popular Humans of New York project and will challenge the negative stereotypes and stigma these men face every day.
Finally, BAI will post a daily call to action during the 30 Days of HIV. These calls will be aimed at energizing the black community in its fight against the HIV virus, as well as fostering important conversations within the black community.
BAI President and CEO, Phil Wilson, sees this new initiative as an important step for rallying the black community to respond to this dire issue.
“Black, gay, and bisexual men in the United States have a 50% lifetime HIV-infection rate. Black women still represent 61% of the new HIV infections among women,” said Wilson. “Our house is still on fire and we don’t seem to notice. 30 Days of HIV is designed to shine a spotlight not just on the problem, but more importantly on who we are and what we can do, if we focus on this problem.”
But the lack of information is only one of the problems contributing to the disproportionate effects HIV has on black communities. Poor economic conditions and social stigma both play a major role in allowing the epidemic to spread.
The price of medical care is an issue for many Americans. A visit to the emergency room can cost between $615 (the mean cost) and $1,318 (the average total cost), according to a survey byThe Medical Expenditure Panel. The cost for a rapid HIV test is $48 — more if the result is positive. This issue of high healthcare costs is even more difficult for black families, who were, on average, 13 times poorer than white families.
That is why Wilson and the BAI are tackling all aspects of how HIV/AIDS affects the black community and highlighting programs that exist to help black communities navigate the unique challenges they face in the fight against HIV.
For more information on the Black AIDS Institute and the 30 Days of HIV, which will run from May 27 to June 27, visit BAI’s website, www.blackaids.org.