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
* 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 blackprep.org.
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.