In 2007, while working as a press secretary to then-Legislative Black Caucus Chair Mervyn M. Dymally, I spearheaded a H.R. 4 in the State Assembly recognizing February 7 as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the State of California.
In 2018, I lost my best friend to AIDS — but really more the stigma associated with the disease. She was one of my biggest champions and would always push me to do more including encouraging me to run for office. I would always tell her no, that’s not my thing. She’s not here to see me run for delegate but I am running for her and millions of Black women like her.
Just because white gay men aren’t dying from AIDS in the numbers that they were back in the 80s and 90s does not mean the crisis is over.
Blacks account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses, those living with HIV, and those who have ever received an AIDS diagnosis, compared to other races/ethnicities.
In 2016, Blacks accounted for 44% of HIV diagnoses, though they comprise 12% of the U.S. population.
Stigma, fear, discrimination, and homophobia place many Blacks at higher risk for HIV. Also, the poverty rate is higher among Blacks than other racial/ethnic groups. The socioeconomic issues associated with poverty—including limited access to high-quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education—directly and indirectly, increase the risk for HIV infection and affect the health of people living with and at risk for HIV. These factors may explain why Blacks have worse outcomes on the HIV continuum of care, including lower rates of linkage to care and viral suppression.
The California Democratic Party and the local county party’s can do more to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and fight the stigma associated with the diseases while advocating that the organizations doing the work in communities of color are fully funded.