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Today, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette (PPCW) recognizes National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and continues our commitment to HIV prevention, testing, education and referrals to care for Black communities that too often face the largest HIV disparities.

In 2017, Planned Parenthood launched its comprehensive HIV Prevention Initiative in partnership with the Black AIDS Institute (BAI), a national organization working to stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals. Last year, Planned Parenthood Federation of America worked with BAI and the American Institutes for Research to conduct qualitative research with cisgender and transgender women of color — who face a disproportionate risk for HIV transmission — to better serve and support HIV prevention for these communities. Our research showed that dispelling myths and destigmatizing HIV creates space for cis and trans women of color to discuss and utilize the HIV prevention methods that are best for them. We also learned just how important it is for providers to build trust with patients in order to provide them the respectful and inclusive care they deserve
PPCW is an important resource to Black communities in Oregon and Southwest Washington for HIV education and prevention options, like testing. Last year, PPCW administered 18,773 HIV tests. PPCW is also proud to be among the more than 400 Planned Parenthood health centers in 44 states across the country that offer pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily pill that can lower your chances of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%.

PPCW also offers post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) — a series of pills that, if taken within 72 hours of being exposed to HIV, can lower your chances of getting it.

Stigma and fear around HIV can heavily contribute to putting Black Americans at higher risk. It’s also important to focus on and center the needs of trans and cis Black women who have been diagnosed with HIV, and whose voices have historically been lost in the battle against the condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 44% of Black transgender women live with HIV, and 26% of Black people who received an HIV diagnosis in 2017 were cis women. Knowing your HIV status is essential to staying healthy and taking control of your sex life. All STDs, including HIV, are treatable, and many are curable. However, you can’t get treatment if you don’t know your status. We must center Black cis and trans women in the HIV conversation to ensure we are providing them the information and care they deserve.

Not only has BAI worked with Planned Parenthood to provide HIV prevention resources in underserved areas, but it also worked with Merck to launch the Black Treatment Advocates Network in 2010, which as of 2013 had trained more than 1,000 advocates to provide assistance and education for people living with HIV in 13 cities across the United States. These advocates serve as thought leaders in their communities and work together to fight for the health equity that Black people need and deserve.

Statement from Sirius Bonner, Vice President of Equity and Inclusion, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette:

“As one of Oregon and Southwest Washington’s leading HIV testing providers, we are proud to offer our patients empathetic, equitable HIV prevention services, such as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post exposure prophylaxis), testing and education. Black women, trans people, young people and men who have sex with men are groups most affected by HIV. Stigma and miseducation can leave these communities without preventive tools and lifesaving treatments. These barriers can restrict people living with AIDS from getting the care and support they need. We’re proud to work in conjunction with organizations like Cascade AIDS Project, A6: African American AIDS Awareness Action Alliance, HIV Alliance in Salem and OUT Central Oregon to ensure that all people have the education, tools and health care they need to live full lives and reach their goals.”

According to the CDC, Black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population, but 43% of new HIV diagnoses. If current diagnosis rates continue, one in two black gay or bisexual men, one in 20 Black men and one in 48 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. All Planned Parenthood health centers can connect people living with HIV to treatment options so they can get the care they need. PPCW is committed to addressing the racial gap in disparities for HIV diagnosis.