For Immediate Release
February 6, 2007

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461


National Black HIV-AIDS Awareness Day is February 7

Wednesday, February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. African Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV-AIDS. Kansans who are at risk of contracting HIV should get tested and take steps to protect themselves from disease.

“African Americans living in Kansas have seen a disproportionate impact from HIV and AIDS,” said Roderick Bremby, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). “Clearly, we must do more to reduce HIV-AIDS, as well as the other health disparities that challenge racial and ethnic communities in Kansas.”

While comprising just 5.9 percent of the state’s population, African Americans accounted for 38.8 percent of the 85 HIV cases diagnosed in Kansas in 2006 (33 cases). Also, 17 of the 82 AIDS cases diagnosed in the state last year – or 20.7 percent – were diagnosed in African Americans.

“Women accounted for 18.2 percent of the newly diagnosed cases in African Americans last year,” said Dr. Howard Rodenberg, KDHE Division of Health Director and State Health Officer. “This compares to 11.8 percent for the total population, so African American women are at especially greater risk.”

In the United States, African Americans make up approximately 12.8 percent of the total population. In 2005, African Americans accounted for 22,030 (50 percent) of the estimated 44,198 AIDS cases diagnosed in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The rate of AIDS diagnoses for African American adults and adolescents was 10 times the rate for whites and nearly three times the rate for Hispanics. The rate of AIDS diagnoses for African American women was nearly 24 times the rate for white women. The rate of AIDS diagnoses for African American men was eight times the rate for white men.

The KDHE Center for Health Disparities has determined that mistrust among African Americans of the medical community, inadequate access to care and stigma surrounding HIV are some of the factors that account for the differences in HIV and AIDS rates for African Americans, compared to the total population.

The CDC notes many reasons for the disproportionate impact on African-Americans including increased poverty, denial about the disease, engaging in sexual activity with at-risk partners, increased substance abuse, and the spread of sexually transmitted disease. CDC research indicated that some African American communities have been slow to respond to the crisis because of cultural misperceptions around drug use and homosexuality.

“National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an opportunity for African-Americans to talk frankly with one another about risky behaviors. If you have ever been at risk of contracting HIV, you should get tested immediately,” said Bremby.

Kansas residents who are at risk for HIV can get tested at one of more than 80 sites in the state. Contact your local health department or the Kansas Department of Health and Environment HIV/STD Section at 785-296-6174 for the location nearest you. Information on public testing sites, the new state epidemiologic profile for HIV/STD, and a downloadable statewide guide of HIV/STD services can be accessed through the KDHE website at http://www.kdheks.gov/hiv/ Additional information from the CDC can be accessed at www.cdc.gov/hiv/ .

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