Throughout the month of February, African-Americans celebrate their achievements over slavery, segregation, and continual challenges to achieving the American Dream so famously spoken by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
One of the greatest challenges that confronts the black community in the United States today is the impact of HIV. Compared to other Americans, blacks are the most impacted racial demographic in the United States. This reality stems from challenges due to limited access to healthcare and HIV prevention education; HIV-related stigma; and a lack of awareness to its community impact. According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, black women account for the greatest number of newly reported HIV diagnoses in Long Beach. At CARE, over one-third of the clientele are African-American.
On February 7, 2017, CARE will honor Black HIV Awareness Day with a public reception at 8 am in the Health Enhancement Center. Ace shared, “This year there is so much to celebrate. For the first time ever, new HIV infections are no longer climbing in the Black community, but have reached a plateau. We know for a fact that UequalsU (Undetectable equals Untransmittable). We also know that PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) works.” PrEP is the once daily medication that prevents transmission of HIV infection. CARE’s medical director recently said, “It’s so great that we are now more focused on outpatient care, education and prevention than the old days when we were solely focused on inpatient and hospice care.”
According to CARE’s Executive Director Ace Robinson, “In the field of HIV, seeing over the proverbial mountaintop means an AIDS-Free generation. And if we continue working together, focusing on those most in need, Black HIV Awareness Day will no longer be about awareness, but remembrance.”
CARE at Dignity Health – St. Mary Medical Center has a well-known tradition of support for the LGBTQ community for over 30 years. Only five years into awareness of the AIDS epidemic, CARE was founded in 1986 as a non-profit program that helps meet the needs of those affected by HIV by providing comprehensive specialized HIV treatment, prevention education and invaluable supportive services. CARE is recognized, through the Human Rights Campaign, as a provider of inclusive and affirming health care to the LGBTQ community.