This publication is your
opportunity to receive regular updates on
the work and the issues that I have been
involved with, both in Harrisburg and
throughout our community.
Please visit my
website, where you will
find a comprehensive overview of our work,
various phone numbers and contact
information to assist you in solving
problems, opportunities to volunteer and
assist us in our programs and opportunities
give your feedback.
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Shines a Spotlight on HIV/AIDS in the
February 7 marked National
Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. On this day, we
work diligently to increase awareness of
HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment among
Blacks in the United States and to mobilize
Black communities to get tested for HIV.
Here in Harrisburg, we commemorated the day with
a press conference followed by a roundtable
discussion with AIDS advocates, community
leaders, state agency representatives and
colleagues of mine in the legislature. Together,
we placed a spotlight on a population that is
disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.
As a long time crusader for AIDS/HIV Awareness,
I continue to point out that it is absolutely
critical the community recognizes the
devastation of HIV/AIDS, and the importance of
being tested for the disease.
More than 500,000 of the approximately 1.1
million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
are Black. In Pennsylvania, African Americans
represent 60 percent of people living with HIV
and 51% of people living with AIDS, according to
the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Blacks
also continue to experience higher rates of
sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than any
other ethnicity or race in our country. The
presence of an STD can dramatically increase the
chance of contracting HIV infections.
Furthermore, we need to break down the stigma
that puts too many African Americans at higher
risk. Many at risk for HIV infection fear the
stigma of HIV more than having the disease
itself. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy
report released by the Obama Administration last
summer addressed the stigma associated with HIV
as one of the main policy recommendations.
Specifically, “The stigma associated with HIV
remains extremely high and fear of
discrimination causes some Americans to avoid
learning their HIV status, disclosing their
status, or accessing medical care.”
It is time that we get the facts, take
control, get tested and start talking.
The more we communicate openly about HIV, the
more we reduce any stigma that keeps so many
from being tested and seeking the treatment and
support they deserve and need. For a testing
center near you and additional information about
HIV/AIDS, please visit
Offices of State
Senator Vincent Hughes