March 10, 2021 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an opportunity to reflect on the impact of HIV on women and the work that still needs to be done to eradicate the disease. Reducing HIV stigma and promoting prevention, testing and treatment for women will help prevent HIV and keep people with HIV healthy, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Although it affects many different populations, HIV has a disproportionate effect on Black women. The CDC summaries reveal that HIV affects African American heterosexual women more than women of any other race or ethnicity and that Black women have the highest rate of new cases each year. A number of factors, such as social stigma, lack of access to health care, socioeconomic conditions, high STD prevalence and structural racism in the U.S. health care system, have contributed to the disparity.
Black transgender women in particular have some of the highest rates of HIV of any population in the U.S., with one study estimating an HIV prevalence rate of 56%. Recent evidence shows that HIV in Black trans women is rarely diagnosed, and they have far more difficulty receiving adequate, affordable, and culturally competent care than cisgender people. In a study including six U.S. cities, nearly 60% of Black trans women living with HIV were undiagnosed, and only 38% were getting regular HIV care. Sadly, racial disparity in disease diagnosis, treatment and regular health care is not a new problem, but one we must strive to correct.
Reducing Racial Disparities for Prostate Cancer
Robert F. Smith, a leading philanthropist and the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, has taken an active role in curbing racial disparities in health care, particularly on shrinking disparities in prostate cancer diagnoses.
Black men are 75% more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men, and more than twice as likely to die from the disease compared to men of other ethnicities, according to data from the American Cancer Society. In July 2020, the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) announced a partnership with Smith, who donated $1.9 million toward the development of a test that will identify a man’s likelihood of developing prostate cancer over a lifetime.
“As African American men are at an increased risk for being diagnosed or dying from prostate cancer, understanding their risk profile and applying this knowledge earlier with strategic detection, care, and decisions about cancer risk management is of utmost importance to address health inequity in the U.S.,” Smith said.
This National Women and Girls HIV/AIDs Awareness Day, take time to spread awareness on disparities in HIV diagnoses and care for Black women, Black transgender women, and other BIPOC communities in the U.S. In addition, take time to explore the CDC’s wide variety of resources on how to take an HIV test in your home or in another space to take control of your own health.
Learn more about Robert F. Smith’s work with PCF to fight prostate cancer.