National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in Minnesota

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Minnesotans asked to get educated, tested, treated and involved in this year's observance

Today, African Americans and African-born people in Minnesota become infected with HIV more often than any other racial or ethnic group, reflecting a national trend. As part of an effort to combat that trend and raise awareness, the seventh annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day (NBHAAD) will be held Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Year after year, surveillance reports across the country continue to show that HIV infection rates continue to escalate at an alarming pace among African American men and women.

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Although African Americans make up around 13 percent of the population of the United States, they represent 49 percent of the total AIDS cases reported in this country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Every day, 72 African Americans are infected with HIV in the U.S.

"HIV infection is certainly not an equal opportunity disease when it comes to our African American and African-born communities," said Peter Carr, director of the STD and HIV Section, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). "Our figures for Minnesota are similar to the nation's, particularly when we look at African American and African-born women."

Overall, in Minnesota, African American and African-born populations continued to have higher rates of infection compared to whites in 2005. Statewide rates for African Americans were nearly 11 times greater than whites and rates for African-born communities were 26 to 37 times greater than whites.

"With these particular communities, the issue is much deeper than simply looking at individual risk behaviors, health care access and knowledge," said Carr. "In order to make any impact on disease rates, we also have to address a host of economic, social and cultural factors."

In a report published last month by the National Minority AIDS Council

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