Researchers Announce Plan to End HIV in Black America
Not enough has been done to end the HIV epidemic in Black America.
That’s what Danielle Campbell, a researcher at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and member of PrEP in Black America (PIBA), believes.
She’s worked to end HIV for over a decade. That’s long enough to see pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) — a drug that prevents the spread of the virus — be released onto the market, as well as millions of dollars funneled into other prevention and treatment programs.
Despite these advancements, Black people continue to contract HIV and die from AIDS more than any other group in the U.S. As of 2019, the community made up 40% of new infections, despite representing only 13% of the country’s population.
Disparities like these are not new. Black folks have been disproportionately affected by the virus since it was first discovered, accounting for 29% of new diagnoses in 1981.
The first call to action by PIBA summit attendees is to add more Black leaders to HIV-related public health positions.
Campbell and others don’t believe the HIV epidemic will end until the power-holders who make major decisions reflect the communities that are most impacted.
Secondly, the group called for a reframing of how PrEP is viewed in the Black community. Rather than a tool used to shame sexual practices, they emphasized it as one for sexual liberation.
Black people face unequal use of PrEP. Just 9% of eligible Black patients have received prescriptions, compared to 66% of white patients.
Through this program, PrEP would be low-cost or free and made available during routine sexual health services. There’d also be an effort to raise the number of Black providers who prescribe PrEP.
The federal government has a goal to end the number of new HIV infections by at least 90% by 2030.
Campbell, whose life work is built on ending the epidemic, looks forward to the day when the Black community is free of the virus.