Reflecting on PreEP Access for NBHAAD.
Every year on February 7th, we observe National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day to acknowledge and address the HIV epidemic’s impact on Black communities. In observation of this day, AIDS United and its leadership reaffirms our commitment to ending the HIV epidemic, by explicitly fighting back against racial injustice and health inequities that are detrimental to the health and well-being of Black individuals who are living with HIV.
We’re calling for increased federal investment in pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) outreach, education and service to Black communities who are disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic.
Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows broad and growing disparities in PrEP prescription between Black and white individuals. In 2021, Black and African American individuals were showing higher numbers of annual HIV transmissions when compared to their white counterparts. This indicates a need for increased HIV treatment services servicing Black communities.
Yet, PrEP uptake among people who could benefit from it in Black and Latinx communities remain extremely low when compared to white communities. A look at the 2019 figures shows that in white communities, 60% were covered, compared to a startling 15% in Latinx communities and an even more shocking 8% in Black communities.
White communities saw the largest increases in PrEP uptake, from 65% in 2020 to 78% in 2021, with Black communities showing the lowest PrEP coverage overall and the lowest increases in coverage, from 9% in 2020 to 11% in 2021. This 2% increase of PrEP uptake in Black communities is striking compared to a 13% increase in white communities.
While overall PrEP uptake have increased from 2019 to 2022, continued failure to address racial health disparities within these numbers removes any prospects we have of ending the HIV epidemic by 2030. At the core of PrEP outreach, education and services needs to be an understanding that the health and well-being of underserved communities of color needs to be prioritized.
It is only through intentional investment into these communities that HIV prevention and treatment efforts can succeed. Future efforts to increase PrEP uptake must consider the history of racism, discrimination and medical mistrust that has prevented Black communities from equitably accessing HIV treatment and prevention tools. Ensuring this access is not just a matter of providing new forms of treatment, but of building efforts to ensure Black communities are being engaged in the process of accessing and utilizing HIV treatment such as PrEP.
During this year’s National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we call on our elected officials to increase federal funding for culturally competent and community driven PrEP services and outreach to Black communities. We also call on Congress to fully fund the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative and implement a National PrEP Program prioritizing elimination of racial health disparities for HIV treatment.
Join AIDS United in continuing to center racial justice and equity within the HIV field. Help address the concerning results of the CDCs findings by calling for elected officials and lawmakers to increase federal funding in support of PrEP programs for Black communities.