30 Plus Years of HIV Among African Americans
Acknowledging the pain, power, and progress
1981 – CDC reports first known cases of what we now call AIDS in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. In that first month, 26 cases are described, 1 of whom is African American*
July 1982 – By the following year, CDC reports more than 86 cases of AIDS have occurred among African Americans – 20 percent of all cases reported for that year*
1984 – Dr. Robert Gallo identifies HIV as the cause of AIDS
June 1984 – CDC reports that 50% of all pediatric AIDS cases are among African Americans
1986 – A special Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on “AIDS Among Blacks and Hispanics,” finds that African Americans account for 51% of all AIDS cases among women and have an overall AIDS rate three times higher than Whites*
1987 – CDC launches the Black Faith Initiative to reach African American faith based organizations with HIV prevention information
1988-1990 – For the first time, the number of new infections among African Americans exceeds the number of infections in Whites and remains that way ever since*
1989 – Dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey dies of AIDS
1990 – The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 1990 is enacted by Congress, providing federal funds for care and treatment.
1991 – NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson announces that he is HIV-positive
1992 – Tennis star Arthur Ashe announces he has AIDS
November 1993 – HIV becomes the leading cause of death for African American men, ages 25-44, and the second leading cause of death for African American women in the same age range*
1994 – AIDS becomes the leading cause of death for all Americans ages 25-44; remains so through 1995.
December 1994 – Rae Lewis Thornton becomes the first HIV-positive African American woman to tell her story for a national publication in Essence Magazine.
1994 – CDC publishes recommendations on the use of AZT to reduce mother-to-child transmission.
1995 – The following year, the agency reports that the number of children with prenatally acquired AIDS declines 27% between 1992 and 1995, with the most dramatic drop in cases occurring in 1994 and 1995.
1995 – First protease inhibitor approved by the US FDA, ushering in a new era of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
1996 – HIV no longer leading cause of death for all Americans ages 25-44; remains leading cause of death of African Americans in this age group.
1998 – African American community leaders join with the Congressional Black Caucus to declare a “state of emergency” and create the Minority AIDS Initiative to fund HIV prevention in black communities. Through the initiative, CDC launches a range of new HIV prevention efforts in black communities.
1999 – Reggie Williams, founder of the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention, and one of the black community’s first and most vocal black gay HIV activists, dies of AIDS.
2000 – HIV cases among Black and Latino men who have sex with men exceed those among their white counterparts.*
2001 – First Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
March 2006 – CDC joins public health partners and African American leaders to launch the Heightened National Response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis among African Americans. More than 200 leaders join the effort.
June 2006 – CDC recommends routine HIV testing in health care settings for all adults, aged 13-64.
2007 – CDC launches its expanded HIV testing initiative to increase HIV testing opportunities, primarily among African Americans.
2008 – New HIV incidence estimates show the number of new infections among African Americans, though unacceptably high, has remained stable for more than a decade.*
2008 – The Black AIDS Institute reports that if Black America were its own country it would rank 16th in the world in terms of number of people with HIV–ahead of Ethiopia, Botswana and Haiti.
2008 – Data show that 1 in 16 Black men will diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime, as will 1 in 32 black women.
April 2009 – The White House partners with CDC to launch Act Against AIDS, the first national HIV awareness campaign in two decades, and the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative – a partnership of leading black organizations working together to fight HIV in their communities.
April 2009 – At the White House unveiling of the Act Against AIDS campaign, civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height urges African Americans to “talk about HIV, as we talk about jobs, as we talk about housing, as we talk about civil rights.”
July 2010 – Obama Administration releases first National HIV/AIDS strategy for the United States which calls on the nation to focus HIV prevention efforts on those at greatest risk, including African Americans.
November 2010 – NIH announces the results of its iPrEx trial, which shows that giving a once-daily pill containing drugs used to treat HIV to HIV-negative, high-risk men who have sex with men (MSM) re- duces their risk of acquiring HIV by 44%.
2011– NIH publishes the results of the HPTN 052 study which shows that taking antiretroviral drugs at the onset of HIV leads to a dramatic reduction in HIV transmission to an uninfected heterosexual partner.
June 2012 – Washington, DC, Department of Health releases a study showing a drop in the overall number of new AIDS cases in the District over four years and improvements in getting infected people into care quickly. But the progress is uneven: HIV infection rate for heterosexual African-American women in the District’s poorest neighborhoods nearly doubled in two years, from 6.3% to 12.1%.
July 2013- President Obama issues an Executive Order directing federal agencies to prioritize supporting the HIV care continuum as a means of implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The HIV Care Continuum Initiative aims to accelerate efforts to improve the percentage of people living with HIV who move from testing to treatment and—ultimately—to viral suppression.
November 2013- President Obama signs the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act, which will allow people living with HIV to receive organs from other infected donors. The HOPE Act has the potential to save the lives of about 1,000 HIV-infected patients with liver and kidney failure annually.
March 2014 – Douglas Brooks is appointed as the new Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP). He is the first African American and the first HIV-positive person to hold the position.
October 2015 – Greater Than AIDS launches a new campaign, Empowered: Women, HIV and Inti- mate Partner Violence to bring more attention to issues of relationship violence and provide resources for women who may be at risk of, or dealing with, abuse and HIV. •
December 2015-CDC announces that annual HIV diagnoses in the U.S. fell by 19% from 2005 to 2014. There were steep declines among heterosexuals, people who inject drugs, and African- Americans (especially Black women), but trends for gay/bisexual men varied by race/ethnicity. Diag- noses
among White gay/bisexual men decreased by 18%, but they continued to rise among Latino gay/bisexual men (+24%) and Black gay/bisexual men (+22%), although the increase for the latter leveled off since 2010.
2016-Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a pill that people who do not have HIV take as prescribed to prevent getting HIV. Despite recent increases in PrEP use among African Americans, significant gaps remain.
2016– African American men accounted for three-quarters of new HIV infections among African Americans in 2016, and 80 percent of these were among African American gay and bisexual men.
2016-Given the continued impact among African Americans, there is still an urgent need to expand access to HIV prevention and treatment, underscoring the importance of the federal initiative ‘Ending the Epidemic: A Plan for America’.
2017-CDC launched Doing It, a national campaign designed to motivate all adults to get tested for HIV and know their status. The campaign aims to normalize HIV testing so that it becomes part of everyone’s regular health routine.
2017- CDC created a new prevention fund cycle for US $339 million. Grants were awarded to health departments that could demonstrate they were providing HIV prevention services to those with the greatest need. Services also had to show they used combined behavioral, medical and structural HIV
2018-Thirty-seven states no longer prohibited health insurance discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, meaning that uninsured LGBT people may struggle to afford healthcare.
2019– Proposed spending includes cutting US $40 million from CDC’s HIV prevention program, and US $26 million from a federal housing program for people living with AIDS. It also includes cutting global HIV programs by US $1 billion. However, this was rejected by Congress.
Today – African Americans, more than any other race, have the highest rates of HIV infection in the nation. Although just 14% of the U.S. population, Blacks account for nearly half of those living and dying with HIV and AIDS. Among African Americans, gay and bisexual men are the most affected,
followed by heterosexual women.
Future– The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare, and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.
Avert. (2019). HIV and AIDS in the United States of America (USA ).
Center for Disease Control ( n.d.) 30 years of HIV in African American communities: A timeline.
Center for Disease Control Fact Sheet. (2019). HIV among African Americans.