Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette
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News Release
Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette Calls for Health Equity on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day - 02/05/18

This week, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette recognizes National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and reaffirms our commitment to promoting access to HIV testing and treatment, addressing stigma and centering the work of black community leaders working to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will be recognized on February 7th with the theme "Stay the Course, the Fight Is Not Over!"

Throughout Black History Month, Planned Parenthood is honoring black community leaders who have made significant contributions to reproductive health, rights and justice through #28DaysofPower. The Twitter handles @PPFA, @PPACT and @PPBlackComm will recognize 28 black women who have led the charge for reproductive freedom throughout our nation's history, from Shirley Chisholm to Faye Wattleton. We're also honoring activists like #BlackLivesMatter founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tomet, who created a hashtag that turned into a nationwide movement to embrace the resilience and importance of black lives.

"Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette is dedicated to working in partnership with black communities to highlight the importance of access to comprehensive HIV prevention and care," says Anne Udall, Interim President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette. "Although this country has made some progress toward greater healthcare equity, disproportionately high HIV rates remain a serious issue for too many people and too many communities. Rates of new HIV cases, along with barriers to treatment and healthcare access, continue to greatly affect already-marginalized communities. We are committed to providing all people, especially those who face existing barriers to accessing quality health care, with comprehensive and cutting-edge HIV prevention resources."

Recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlight how black communities in the United States continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV:

* In 2015, black women were 16 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white women.

* Nationally, black women comprised 60 percent of women living with HIV by the end of 2014.

* Black Southerners make up only 20 percent of the population in the South, but in 2014 accounted for 54 percent of the region's new HIV diagnoses.

* If current diagnosis rates continue, 1 in 6 of all men who have sex with men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime; for black men who have sex with men, 1 in 2 will be diagnosed.

Despite the lifesaving advances in antiretroviral therapy for treatment and prevention, HIV remains an urgent public health crisis, especially for certain marginalized communities that face barriers to affordable, quality health care. According to a 2015 CDC surveillance report, black people account for 4 in 10 Americans living with HIV and nearly half of all new HIV infections.

Given the history of substandard care and healthcare exclusion based on racial and gender bias - including potential provider bias in prescribing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) across racial groups - it is critical that culturally competent healthcare providers build and maintain trust within the communities they serve. People of color, black and Latino men who have sex with men and those in rural areas have been largely left behind every time a major scientific breakthrough in HIV has occurred, so HIV rates remain a disproportionate public health crisis among these communities.

"At Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette, we are committed to offering HIV prevention education and services to populations facing stigma and discrimination that affects their access to health care and increases their risk of HIV - including black women, trans people, young people and men who have sex with men," Board Chair Sita Symonette says. "Creating health equity - including access to quality, affordable, compassionate health care - is critical to ensuring that all people can lead healthy, safe and empowered lives."

Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette recently expanded our comprehensive HIV prevention and education efforts by offering pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily pill that helps prevent HIV. About 30 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 45 live within five miles of a Planned Parenthood health center that offers HIV testing, which makes Planned Parenthood an essential point of contact to educate patients about PrEP and condom use to help prevent HIV.

As part of our mission to help people live healthy lives, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette works every day in communities across the country and with partners around the world so that everyone - no matter who they are or where they live - can access accurate, high-quality and compassionate sexual and reproductive health care.