Today, April 10, 2015, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) joins with the nation to recognize National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD), which is an annual observance to educate the public about the impact of HIV/AIDS on young people as well as highlight the inspiring work young people are doing across the country to fight the epidemic. Young people today are the first generation to have never known a world without HIV/AIDS. In the United States alone, one in four new HIV cases are among youth, ages 13 to 24. Every month, 1,000 young people acquire HIV, and more than 70,000 young people are currently living with HIV across the country. Most new HIV cases in youth (about 70 percent) occur in gay and bisexual males; most are African American.
At the heart of NBJC's advocacy efforts and mission as a civil rights organization is an ongoing commitment to Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) youth and their overall leadership development. As NYHAAD works to empower young people to speak out on the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our nation, NBJC joins the effort by highlighting several voices of the 2015 inaugural cohort of 100 Black LGBTQ/SGL Emerging Leaders to Watch (#100toWatch).
"As a young person living with HIV, it has been my experience that support systems that see you holistically and have your best interest at heart are critical to improving health outcomes in our communities," said Lawrence Stallworth, #100toWatch cohort member, who also serves on President Obama's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. "NYHAAD allows young people, especially young people of color, to lift their voices around how to make the HIV/AIDS epidemic a thing of the past."
Danielle E. Stevens, #100toWatch cohort member and U.S. Trans Survey (USTS) Fellow at the National Center for Transgender Equality, added this: "Recognition of NYHAAD is vital in bringing attention to the ways in which HIV/AIDS impacts young, Black queer and trans communities. Typically, the way in which national dialogues around HIV/AIDS are framed center on the experiences of gay cis-gender men, leaving Black cis, trans, straight and queer women, femmes and girls out of the conversation. We must be intentional on this day to uplift the narratives of Black women and girls of all genders and orientations."
"Despite figures such as Laverne Cox and Janet Mock gracing countless television screens and stages, non-sensationalist conversations about Black transgender people are rare. This is especially true in HIV prevention work where minimal data about the community exists. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that over one-fifth (20.23 percent) of Black respondents were HIV-positive; an additional 10 percent reported not knowing their status," also added Shaan Michael Wade, #100toWatch cohort member and NASTAD Communications Intern. "Discriminatory laws, social stigma and racism combine to create an environment in which criminalization of Black, transgender and HIV-positive people are inextricably linked."
PHOTOS (left to right): Lawrence Stallworth, Danielle Stevens, Shaan Michael Wade
In recognition of NYHAAD and to build an "AIDS-free Generation," take the following actions today:
- Encourage President Obama, Congress, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the HIV/AIDS community to officially recognize April 10 as National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day by signing an online petition HERE;
- Get tested TODAY! You should test for HIV every six (6) months. Need help finding somewhere to get tested? Visit www.hivtest.org to find testing services in YOUR LOCAL community.
- If you test positive for HIV, get in care! Find a provider you can trust and develop a treatment plan in order to take control of your health. Click HERE to find a list of providers in your community.
- Speak out about HIV/AIDS with your family, friends and in your community. As you advocate for an "AIDS-free Generation," make sure to promote HIV testing as a regular wellness practice, debunk stigma around HIV infection and start the necessary conversations to deal honestly with the challenges we face in addressing HIV/AIDS. #SpeakOutHIV
- Talk, support and volunteer in order to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Get involved Today! Learn more at #ActAgainstAIDS #NYHAAD