Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Black AIDS Institute Releases 17th State of AIDS in Black America Report: ‘Black Lives Matter—What’s PrEP Got to Do With It?’

Los Angeles, April 19, 2016—Today the Black AIDS Institute is releasing its 2016

report on the State of AIDS in Black America: “Black Lives Matter: What’s PrEP Got

to Do With It?” The report focuses on what Black communities need to know about

pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and other new biomedical HIV prevention tools.

Many scientists, doctors and advocates believe that the scientific tools needed to

end the AIDS epidemic already exist. Unfortunately, as the persistently unacceptable

high rates of new HIV infections underscore, these tools are not being applied

effectively in Black communities. While new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. as a whole fell

19 percent between 2005 and 2014, new cases among Black gay and bisexual men,

for example, increased by 87 percent.

When used correctly, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV for

HIV-negative individuals with an HIV-positive partner; however, it is still being

underutilized in Black communities.

“We are at a point in the HIV epidemic where we can either reduce HIV health

disparities or exacerbate them,” says Black AIDS Institute President and CEO Phill

Wilson. “Some communities are rapidly adapting to a new world where biomedical

tools to fight HIV are used to dramatic positive effect. We’re not seeing that kind of

response in Black communities. This report investigates why.”

“The report examines where Black communities are in familiarity, understanding,

knowledge, beliefs, access and utilization of PrEP. It also makes recommendations

on how the community can maximize the potential benefits of PrEP and other

biomedical interventions,” Wilson adds. “But most importantly, this report provides

resources to help educate communities about PrEP and help communities access

and finance PrEP. Finally, this report makes recommendations on how Black

communities can maximize the potential benefits of PrEP and other biomedical


The report’s key findings include the following:

 PrEP works. Research studies and demonstration projects have shown that

PrEP is extraordinarily effective when used as directed. Protection against HIV

infection approaches 100 percent for people who take PrEP as prescribed. “In

2014 I saw a big increase in demand for PrEP,” says HIV specialist and

researcher David Malebranche, M.D., MPH. “When you teased out the study

results, it became crystal clear. Among people who took Truvada every day, no

one got HIV.”

 PrEP can help end the AIDS epidemic in Black America. On its own, PrEP can

prevent 1 in 5 new HIV infections through 2020. Combined with scaled-up HIV

treatment, PrEP could avert 70 percent of all new infections over the next five


 Black America needs PrEP the most. America’s HIV epidemic is a Black

epidemic. Black Americans make up 49 percent of all new HIV diagnoses. Black

gay and bisexual men stand a 50 percent chance of acquiring HIV in their

lifetimes, Black women are 18 times more likely than White women to be HIV

positive, and Black transgender women are three times more likely to acquire

HIV than their White or Latina counterparts.

 When it comes to PrEP, Black America is being left behind. Every available

measure indicates that while Black communities need PrEP the most, they are

far less likely to receive PrEP than other racial or ethnic groups. “Because PrEP is

new, there is a lot of work to do to get it implemented, particularly in

communities at highest risk,” says Dawn Smith, M.D., MPH, an epidemiologist in

the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and


 New scientific evidence suggests that robust PrEP uptake is achievable in

Black America. New clinical trial findings indicate that programs that are

tailored to the needs of Black gay and bisexual men and that proactively address

barriers to uptake and adherence can promote strong PrEP utilization in Black

communities. “There needs to be a shift in the ways in which we are advertising

PrEP,” says Leo Moore, M.D., an HIV doctor who has prescribed PrEP to about 50

patients. “Some of the advertisements I’ve seen don’t speak to men of color. But

we know the epidemic is largely in men of color. We need a brain shift to develop

ad campaigns and messages that focus on the people who present the greatest


 An urgent national initiative is needed to expedite the uptake of PrEP in

Black America. The ongoing AIDS crisis in Black America necessitates an urgent

national initiative—one combining the efforts of policy-makers, funders, public

health agencies, health-care providers, community organizations and Black

communities. “People were being made aware of PrEP but had no place to access

those services,” says Leisha McKinley-Beach, HIV prevention program

administrator for the Fulton County Health Department in Georgia. “Prior to the

health department providing PrEP, there were perhaps two for-profit clinics

where you could get PrEP. But to access PrEP at the private clinics, you had to

have insurance or the ability to pay out of pocket.”

As the report details, the following steps need to be taken:

* Invest in community education and awareness campaigns.

* Educate health-care providers about PrEP.

* Adapt delivery systems to facilitate PrEP uptake.

* Remove financial barriers to PrEP use.

* Undertake specific efforts to address the PrEP needs of cisgender and

transgender women.

* Strengthen the ability of PrEP programs to maximize STI control.

* Continue to pursue a robust research agenda on PrEP.

The report is available online at

The Black AIDS Institute

Founded in 1999, the Black AIDS Institute is the only national HIV/AIDS think tank in

the United States focused exclusively on Black people. The Institute’s mission is to end

the AIDS epidemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions,

leaders and individuals in efforts to confront HIV/AIDS. The institute disseminates

information, offers training and capacity building, provides testing and linkage to care,

influences both private and public HIV/AIDS policy, and conducts mobilization and

advocacy from a uniquely and unapologetically Black point of view.

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