Statement from David J. Johns about the Impact of HIV/AIDS Epidemic on Black communities
Washington, D.C.– In recognition of World AIDS Day and to call public attention to the disproportionate impact of the AIDS epidemic on Black communities, David Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), released the following statement:
"We recognize those we have lost to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and acknowledge the work still required to end the epidemic. Today, given scientific, medical, and social advancements no one has to die as a result of HIV/AIDS. Ending the epidemic in our lifetime is not a question of resources but a question of will. Will we fight to ensure that those most neglected and ignored receive the health care and legal protections we all need to thrive?
“In spite of noteworthy improvements in HIV testing and treatment for many communities, Black people still experience the highest infection and mortality rates. It is not the case that Black people engage in riskier sexual behavior nor can we blame increases rates on myths about brothers on the down low. Black people are disproportionately impacted because of racism and systems set up to deny us access to health care, preventive medicine like PrEP, and stigma, which forces many to avoid being tested or engaging in conversations about sexual health.
“AIDS needs a cure, but our communities also need resources that cannot be developed in a laboratory. Black and Brown people, LGBTQ people, and poor people need better access to quality and affordable healthcare, administered by medical providers who are culturally competent. Our communities need resources to deal with the trauma that results from transatlantic enslavement, anti-Blackness and white supremacy. Our country needs policies that provide uniform and basic human rights professions to everyone.
“The National Black Justice Coalition pledges to continue the fight for federal policy solutions can save lives. The NBJC has developed the Words Matter HIV Toolkit to support members of our community in having conversations to eliminate stigma and increase testing, treatment, and support. We hope that it serves as a critical resource for everyone engaged in working woke and affirming that Black lives matter. To end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Black community, in our lifetime, it will require each of us to do more and be better at eliminating HIV stigma and fostering welcoming environments where everyone feels safe and supported. On this day, let us remember that the fight against HIV/AIDS is far from over, and we have all of the tools needed to win.”