Originally published on Blackdoctor.org
Though many strides have been made in the management of HIV, the medical community is still concerned about the high rates at which Blacks continue to contract the disease. While there are several factors that may affect this issue, you can protect yourself by paying attention to certain key areas that are likely to raise your risk of infection.
How HIV Affects The Black Population
In fact, though only 12% of the American population identify as Black, they account for 43% of new diagnoses. Black people were 8 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white people and twice more likely than Latinos.
In a recent survey, it was found that 42% of those living with HIV were African American and 44% of those who died from the disease’s complications were also Black. The same surveys found that women were more likely to contract HIV than men.
In 2019, it was found that for every 100 African Americans who had HIV, only 74 were receiving home care. 56 were in specialized care, and 61 were virally suppressed. The average numbers were higher for other ethnicities.
Other factors that can affect the prevention and management of HIV in African American populations include racism, the stigma of being HIV-positive, social issues, and the person’s economic status.
Recommendations For HIV Prevention
Given how dire the numbers are for African Americans once they’ve been diagnosed, it’s important to do everything you can to prevent getting infected. These are a few suggestions.
1. Practice Safe Sex
Regardless of the type of sex you’ll be having, you should always protect yourself. It’s important to use condoms every time you’re having sex. Bear in mind that condoms are only effective if used correctly so ensure that you know the CDC guidelines for proper use. In the event of multiple partners or a multi-person sexual activity, it’s essential that everyone is protected.
2. Get Tested Regularly
The suggested frequency for getting tested for STIs and HIV will vary from one person to the other. Generally, those who are more sexually active should get tested at least every 6 months or whenever they suspect they’ve been exposed because of unprotected sex. You should also talk to your partner or partners about getting tested. This prevention strategy only works well if everyone is aware of their status.
3. Always Stick To Your Treatment Plan
If you’ve been diagnosed with any STIs, make sure to follow your doctor’s treatment plan. It may be tempting to stop taking the medication because you’re feeling better, but not completing the treatment can make some infections worse. You’ll also expose others to the disease. Additionally, studies show that having an STI can increase your chances of contracting HIV so make sure you’re treated.
4. Talk To Your Doctor About PrEP
This daily drug is recommended for people who haven’t been diagnosed with HIV but are at risk of contracting it. While discussing it with your doctor, be honest about what you think your risk factors are so they can come to the right decision.
5. Avoid Injecting Drugs
While it’s always a good idea to avoid illegal drugs altogether, injecting them with used or shared needles puts you at a higher risk of contracting HIV.
6. Never Stop Learning
One of the areas that researchers identified that can be used to help reduce HIV in African Americans is education. Since the medical landscape is constantly changing. It’s good to know if there have been any new developments regarding the prevention and management of the disease.
The statistics may show that African Americans are being diagnosed with HIV at a higher rate than other ethnicities, but that doesn’t mean you have to catch it. If you protect yourself, get tested, and ensure that your partners are healthy, you should significantly lower your risk.