Each year on Dec. 1, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. People worldwide are united on this day to show support for people living with HIV and to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.

Each World AIDS Day has focused on a specific theme beginning with its founding in 1988. This year’s theme is “Equalize” whereby the United Nations-AIDS is urging nationstates — particularly “first-world” countries —- to address the inequalities which are holding back progress in ending AIDS.

The yearly acknowledgement fosters awareness-raising activities around the world. Many people will wear a red ribbon, the universal symbol of awareness of, support for and solidarity with people living with HIV. These individuals will take this day to make their collective voices even louder on important issues in their lives. 

Additionally, groups of people living with HIV around the world take the opportunity to join like-minded organizations to encourage AIDS response mobilizations in support of the communities they serve and to raise needed funds.

The AIDS epidemic for the past 40 years has taken an extraordinary toll on African-Amercans who represent 13% of the U.S. population. Three years ago, the Black community comprised 42% (15,305) of the 36,801 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas. 

Broken down by category, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that 79% of African-Americans infections since 2019 involved male-to-male sexual contact, 14% heterosexual contact, 4% injection drug use and 3% male-to-male sexual contact combined with intravenous drug use. 

For Black women, 91% of the new HIV infections were attributed to heterosexual contact; the HIV infection rate among Black women is the highest compared to women of all other races and ethnicities.

Statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health revealed that, presently, African-Americans are 8.1 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV infections, as compared to the nation’s White population. 

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