TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – HIV disproportionately affects Black and Hispanic people compared to other racial groups, and as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it makes the inequities worse.
This PRIDE month, Tampa Bay organizations are bringing these issues to the forefront.
In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 13% of the U.S. population was made up of African-Americans. However, 41% of Blacks made up the HIV population. Hispanics represented 18% of the population, but 23% of people with HIV. Other social and economic factors like discrimination, income, and education make the inequities worse.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped either. During the past year and a half, communities of color have seen a lack of access to HIV testing and treatment.
With this in mind, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Tampa Bay Chapter partnered with Positively U, Inc. and other organizations to educate the community on these issues. Both organizations believe continuous education is the key to ending disparities surrounding HIV in the Black and brown LGBTQ+ community.
“We have to come together to be supportive of one another,” said Phekila Johnson with NCBW. “That stigma and breaking the dysfunction of we don’t talk about things. That has to stop and it has to start somewhere, and that’s why this PRIDE month, this HIV Awareness Month, we decided to bring this discussion to the front to show that we support this community and give them a platform to continue educating others.”
“We want to bring the education to the people to let them know what services are available to them and what resources are at their disposal in order to get them knowledgeable and empowered to live healthy lives,” said Antonio Miles with PositivelyU.
Both organizations are led by minorities. NCBW Tampa Bay says its efforts to combat the HIV epidemic will continue through its programming. For more information, visit the chapter’s website.
PositivelyU provides support for persons living with HIV to prevent the spread of HIV through education, counseling, testing, and case management. The organization will have an event with Evolve Tampa Bay on June 12 for Pride called Black & Pride. For more details on the event and its services, visit PositivelyU’s website.
DACCO Behavioral Health is also providing mobile HIV testing and treatment services. For more information, visit the organization’s website.