June 8: National Caribbean HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
June 8 marks the 10th annual National Caribbean HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The day, convened by the Caribbean People International Collective, Inc., aims to cultivate a health-conscious atmosphere within Caribbean communities throughout the U.S. and its territories by encouraging individuals to get tested and, if necessary, treated not only for HIV, but also for other diseases that disproportionately impact the population, including diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases.
The Caribbean has the world’s second-highest rate of HIV after sub-Saharan Africa, and in 2013 250,000 people in the region were living with the virus. Approximately three million individuals of West Indian descent and nearly nine million tracing their heritage to Puerto Rico, Cuba, or the Dominican Republic currently live in the 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., and nearly four million more live in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Many Caribbean Americans living in the U.S. are categorized as African Americans, who constitute just 13% of the national population but account for nearly half of all new HIV infections annually. In Puerto Rico, the rate of HIV infection is nearly twice as high as the rate in the U.S., and the rate of death from AIDS-related causes is nearly four times as high.
“In 2006, National Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was created as an opportunity for Caribbean American and Caribbean-born individuals to get educated, get tested, get treated, and get involved,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “This is critical because as we attempt to combat HIV/AIDS in America, overcoming racial and ethnic disparities remains a serious issue at the heart of the fight. In particular, Caribbean Americans face low quality healthcare and a cultural stigma against public discussion of HIV/AIDS.”
For more information on events occurring in your area on National Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, click here.