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From the Director's Desk: December is National HIV/AIDS Awareness Month

December is HIV Awareness month. And, like many diseases and conditions, HIV disproportionately affects communities of color. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It weakens a person’s immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. According to the CDC, no effective cure for HIV exists. However, HIV can be managed with medical care.

While most people diagnosed with HIV include male-to-male sexual contact, in 2020 the CDC reported that heterosexual contact accounted for 22% of all HIV diagnoses. What’s more, in 2020, African-Americans accounted for 42% (12,827) of all new HIV diagnoses. In addition, Hispanics accounted for 27% (8,285) of all new HIV diagnoses.

There are several ways HIV can be prevented:

  • Use a condom properly to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • Use the medication PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) if you are at risk for contracting HIV. It is highly effective at preventing HIV transmission. Talk with your healthcare provider to see if a prescription for PrEP is right for you.
  • Get tested (and treated) for STDs. If you have an STD, it increases your chances of contracting HIV.
  • Practice abstinence. Not having sex prevents the sexual transmission of HIV and other STDs.

Those living with HIV often face stigma and discrimination. History shows us that stigma arises from misunderstanding. The best way to end the stigma surrounding HIV is to talk about it and learn the facts.

Click Here to learn more about HIV.

The Arkansas Minority Health Commission is always Working Today For A Healthier Tomorrow.