New Jersey Department of Health

PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
February 4, 2016

Cathleen D. Bennett
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

February 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

2016 Theme: “I am my Brother/Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS.”

The New Jersey Department of Health is marking the 16th annual National Black HIV Awareness Day on Feb. 7 by encouraging African American residents to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and get involved in community initiatives that promote awareness.  On Feb. 5, New Jersey Department of Health Deputy Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito and Connie Calisti-Meyers, Assistant Commissioner of the Division of HIV, STD and TB Services, will join local community leaders in Trenton at the Greater Mt. Zion Church to observe National Black HIV Awareness Day from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 “New Jersey is an incredibly diverse state with more than one-fifth of our population foreign-born. We know African Americans are disproportionately burdened by HIV, which is 100% preventable,” Acting Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett said. “Disparities must be addressed through a collaborative approach that includes partnerships in the process of improving health outcomes of this population.”

While blacks represent about 12% of the U.S. population, they account for more new HIV infections (44%), people living with HIV (43%), and deaths of persons with diagnosed HIV (48%) than any other racial/ethnic group in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As of June 30, 2015, about 38,300 people were living with HIV/AIDS in New Jersey. An additional 16% of individuals infected with HIV are unaware of their status. Minorities account for 78% of all people living with HIV/AIDS in New Jersey, and about 87% of pediatric cases living with HIV/AIDS are minorities.

CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once, and those at higher risk should be tested at least once annually. Healthcare professionals should offer an HIV test as part of routine care. 

While there is still work to be done to ensure everyone knows how to protect against HIV, much progress has been made among the black community. Blacks are more likely than other races and ethnicities to report that they have been tested for HIV at least once: 65% versus 46% for Hispanics/Latinos and 41% for whites.

 The number of new HIV infections among blacks overall is on track to meet a 2015 national goal of reducing new infections by 25%.

“Over the past 30 years, medical advances in HIV prevention and treatment methods have contributed to a decline in the transmission of HIV from mothers to babies,” Dr. Brito said. “We hope to continue that trend through education and prevention initiatives.”

Nearly 99,000 free, confidential rapid HIV tests were administered in the state last year at more than 150 locations. This testing program delivers test results in about 20 minutes. A list of testing sites is available here.

Nearly 7,000 HIV patients received HIV-related medications through the NJ AIDS Drug Distribution Program from April 2014 through March 2015.

Strategies for preventing and reducing your risk for HIV infection include: 

  • Adhering to HIV treatment regimens, if you are HIV-infected
  • Abstaining from sexual activity
  • Using condoms consistently and correctly
  • Avoiding sharing needles to inject fluids or for body piercing or tattoos
  • Seeking HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), if you are at high risk for HIV.

More information, including the latest New Jersey HIV/AIDS report, is available here.

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