National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Almost 10 years old, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was founded by five national organizations funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1999 to provide capacity building assistance to Black communities and organizations. The founding five organizations are: Concerned Black Men, Inc. of Philadelphia; Health Watch Information and Promotion Services, Inc.; Jackson State University – Mississippi Urban Research Center; National Black Alcoholism and Addictions Council; and National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, February 7th of every year, is a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Blacks in the United States and the Diaspora. There are four specific focal points: education, testing, involvement, and treatment. Educationally, the focus is to get Blacks educated on the basics of HIV/AIDS in their local communities. Testing is at the core of this initiative, as it is hoped that Blacks will mark February 7th of every year as their annual or bi-annual day to get tested for HIV. This is for those who are sexually active and those at high risk of contracting HIV. When it comes to community and organization leadership, getting Blacks involved to serve is another key focus. And lastly, for those living with HIV or newly testing positive for the virus, getting them connected to treatment and care services becomes paramount.
In the last five years, the initiative has evolved, and so to has the governing body. A Strategic Leadership Councilleads the initiative, and provides guidance, direction, and strategic thought around how to get more Black community stakeholders involved and engaged each and every year. There are a total of ten organizations that work together annually to make NBHAAD a success: Alliances for Quality Education, Inc.; Balm in Gilead; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Healthy Black Communities, Inc.; Jackson State University – Mississippi Urban Research Center; My Brother’s Keeper, Inc.; Multi-Cultural Addictions Network, Inc.; National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors; National Black Alcoholism and Addictions Council; National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.
Healthy Black Communities, Inc. serves as the lead organization for mobilizing local, regional and national resources; coordinates communication via an 800#, email, and regular mail; develops the imagery of the initiative annually; and serves as the website designer, host and developer. HBC has been in this role for more than five years.
This initiative has had an array of national spokespersons: congressional leaders, faith based leaders, entertainers, actors, actresses, authors, radio personalities, and the list goes on and on. Some of the most notable spokespersons have been:President Barack Obama during his term in the Illinois Senate, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Bishop TD Jakes, Radio Personality Tom Joyner, former NAACP President and CEO Kwesi Mfume, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Actor/Author Harper Hill, Screenwriter Patrik Ian Polk, and the list goes on.
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