doctor_giving_shot.jpgNational Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a testing and treatment initiative designed to encourage blacks across the U.S and territories to get educated, tested, involved and treated, as the disease continues to devastate black communities.  This year it falls on Feb. 7.

And as part of a mobilization effort, in February special events such as press conferences, town hall meetings, health fairs, church services, community marches and rallies, candlelight vigils, and free HIV testing will be held throughout the nation.

It’s time to mobilize and talk about this devastating disease so we can make a difference… and there’s no better time than on Feb. 7, said organizers in a statement.

In 2009, an estimated 16,741 Blacks were diagnosed with AIDS in the US, a number that has slowly decreased since 2006.  By the end of 2008, an estimated 260,800 blacks with an AIDS diagnosis had died in the US. In 2007, HIV was the ninth leading cause of death for all blacks and the third leading cause of death for both black men and women aged 35–44.

Unfortunately, many of those who are infected with HIV are unaware and may unknowingly transmit the virus to others.

While blacks represent approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the group accounts for 44 percent of the nation’s new HIV infections.

In its 14th year, organizers remain focused on all cities where black communities are disproportionately impacted and the epidemic is not slowing.  Some of these cities include Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Newark, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, San Francisco, Trenton and Washington, D.C., a statement said.

Several black celebrities and community leaders have served as the face and voice of this huge effort while encouraging thousands of black communities to mobilize and do something that will be long-lasting in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Past spokespeople include: President Barack H. Obama (during his time as Illinois Senator), Congressman Elijah E. Cummings; Tony Dungy; Idris Elba; Kimberly Elise; Lance Gross; Hill Harper; Taraji P. Henson; Tom Joyner; Congresswoman Barbara Lee; Ludacris; Master P; Tangi Miller; Patrik-Ian Polk; General Colin Powell; Sheryl Lee Ralph; Gloria Reuben; Romeo; Rev. Edwin Sanders; Tavis Smiley; and Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

Currently, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is directed, planned and organized by a group known as the Strategic Leadership Council, who partners with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to mobilize communities and address specific issues in regards to local epidemics.

For more information on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, visit NationalBlackAIDSDay.org