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Black HIV Awareness Day highlights disproportionate rate of transmission among African Americans

Posted at 12:09 PM, Feb 07, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Douglas County Health Department reports 714 Black Nebraskans living with HIV/AIDS in the state; the number is higher than in any other racial group.

Census estimates from 2019 show just 5.2% of Nebraska’s population is Black, but Black Nebraskans make up 25% of the total number of undiagnosed HIV cases.

Steven Thrasher, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at Northwestern University specializing in social justice, LGBTQ and public health issues. He is also the author of "The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide." Thrasher's research into the discrepancies of virus transmission among racial groups across the U.S. in select cities, including Omaha, also shows greater HIV transmission within communities of color.

He says the legal system is just one of the factors that contribute to the disparity and hopes to see a de-stigmatization of the virus.

“What we want is for people to have open communication about what they’re going through to be able to get the help they need and tell other people who might be affected," said Thrasher.

He added the Black LGBTQ community is specifically affected by higher HIV infection rates and says the reasons have more to do with socioeconomic factors rather than individual choice.

"That has to do with the same reasons why Black people are more likely to be incarcerated, the reason why Black people are more likely to become homeless; the systemic racism creates these various things,” he said.

The Douglas County Health Department says there are plenty of resources available for those needing HIV services you can also log on to the CDC's website to find fast, free and confidential testing sites.

Its website is gettested.cdc.gov.

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