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State Senator Vincent Hughes: On the Issues
Senator Hughes An informational update for you! February 8, 2011

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 to give your feedback.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Shines a Spotlight on HIV/AIDS in the Black Community

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