February 7, 2021 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). Since 1999, NBHAAD has been observed every year to increase awareness, spark conversations, and highlight the work being done to reduce HIV in Black communities in the United States. It is also a time to show support for people living with HIV (PLWH) in these communities.
HIV/ AIDS Disparities in Iowa
Communities of color in Iowa bear a disproportionate burden of HIV. These disparities are not due to behavior. Research indicates that minoritized populations are more likely to use a condom and have fewer sex partners. Disparities are largely attributed to factors known as social determinants of health (SDoH). SDoH affects family, social and romantic relationship patterns for communities of color and impacts a population’s ability to access healthcare. Some of these factors include poverty, residential segregation, historical trauma, racism, homophobia, disproportionate rates of incarceration, and stigma.
While Black people represent 4% of Iowa’s population, they experienced 31% of HIV diagnoses in 2019. The Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis is working hard to address disparities in communities of color. In 2019, HIV diagnoses among Black people in Iowa decreased for the third year in a row after peaking in 2016 at 33% of total diagnoses.
Stigma related to HIV and STDs often limits access to social support systems and other protective factors in communities of color. It can result in delayed testing, fear of disclosing one’s risk or HIV status, social isolation, and poor health outcomes.
Watch this video from The Sero Project, Sing Your Song: PLHIV Networks Change Lives, about how social support systems help combat HIV stigma.
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis and its partners throughout the state work to eliminate stigma and HIV disparities in Black and other communities of color. On this National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we invite all of our subrecipients, stakeholders, and the general public to recommit to this work. The theme of NBHAAD 2021 is, “We’re in This Together.” Even when we are physically apart, we must support each other in ending transmission of HIV. To learn more about how we can stop HIV together, visit https://www.cdc.gov/stophivtogether/index.html.
Iowa Initiatives to End HIV Stigma
Rural Outreach Program - Six regional health specialists (RHS) work throughout Iowa providing education and modeling best practices for HIV, STD, and Hepatitis care and prevention. One of the prime objectives of the RHS is to reduce stigma associated with HIV, STIs, and Hepatitis, particularly among providers in rural areas of the state. In 2021, the RHS work plan includes strengthening the program’s anti-stigma efforts to include a “human library” of stories of resilience. More to come...
Iowa Social Support Services
PrEP Iowa -Learn about PrEP and nPEP, find a provider in your community, get one-on-one assistance accessing PrEP or nPEP, and learn about how to get PrEP through a virtual provider.
HIV Testing Services- Use the locator to find free HIV testing services and prevention counseling across the state.
PITCH Meet and Greet - Every month Positive Iowans Taking Charge (PITCH) hosts a meet and greet for people living with or supporting people living with HIV (PLWH)
Courageous Minds Counseling - PLWH in Des Moines or the surrounding area who are seeking a support group may attend the group on Wednesday evenings.