It’s Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Find out where you can get tested

In honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (Feb. 7) – now in its 12th year – several local organizations are offering free testing.

According to the Mazzoni Center, men who have sex with men represent more than half of new HIV infections in the U.S. today. And within that group, the Centers for Disease Control report that gay and bisexual men of color are infected at disproportionately high rates.

From July 1 until June 30 of last year, Mazzoni Center tested nearly 5,500 people for HIV – and about 2,800 of them identified as men who have sex with men (and 1,100 were men of color). The overall positive rate for gay and bisexual men was 2.98 percent, but for men in this same category who are of color, the rate was an alarming 4.75 percent. The situation is even more critical, says the center, for young gay and bisexual men of color who are 24 and younger.

“We encourage everyone, but especially men of color, to get tested as a first step towards taking charge of their health,” says a statement from the Mazzoni Center. “Statistics tells us that people who know their HIV status are much more likely to seek the medical care they need, which dramatically improves their health outcomes, and to take steps to protect their sexual partners and prevent further infections.”

Philadelphia FIGHT, another local AIDS organization conducting testing today, offers another startling fact: Even though Black Americans represent 12 percent of the U.S. population, this group accounts for almost half (44 percent) of all new HIV infections.

What are you waiting for?

If you’re sexually active and would like to get tested for free today, here’s a list of facilities participating in the Philly region:

ActionAIDS (1026 Arch Street, Philadelphia)

Albert Einstein Hospital (5501 Old York Road, Third Floor, Philadelphia)

Chester County Health Department (601 Westtown Road, West Chester)

Mazzoni Center (1201 Locust Street, Philadelphia)

SafeGuards/Circle of Care (3141 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia)

St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children (3601 A Street, Nelson Pavilion, Suite 2020, Philadelphia)

For more information, facts and tips about dealing with HIV and AIDS in the community, check out this video: