Academy Council for Racial Equity (ACRE) Statement on National Black HIV Awareness Day 2021

Academy Council for Racial Equity (ACRE) Statement on National Black HIV Awareness Day 2021

The Academy Council for Racial Equity (ACRE) was established in September 2020 by the National Board of the American Academy of HIV Medicine. We are a group of medical providers representing various medical disciplines who provide care for people with HIV. The Academy recognized the discordance between the racial composition of the HIV provider workforce and those with or at risk for HIV. This situation creates many systemic problems in care for African Americans with HIV. This problem was what led to the need to convene this group. As a group we hope to help the Academy and the HIV community address the problems associated with this disparity.

Below is our Mission Statement which guides all our activities.

The mission of the American Academy of HIV Medicine’s Academy Council for Racial Equity (ACRE) is to address systemic racism, stigma, reproductive justice and ethnicity-based health disparities impacting those with or at risk of HIV and related conditions. We direct our efforts at the systems that provide healthcare to these communities by fostering diversity and inclusion, and promoting healthcare parity through advocacy, community engagement, health promotion and education. It is our goal to work towards a society where socio-economic justice and healthcare equity prevail.

Our Areas of Focus

Keeping in line with our mission statement we have decided to focus our efforts on the following problems:

  1. Lack of African American representation in research as it pertains to HIV providers and selection of participants for trials.
  2. Address the unique needs of cis-gender African American women with or at risk for HIV. Sixty percent of all new HIV infections in females are in African American women.
  3. Identifying and highlighting to key stakeholders the structural and systemic factors driving the observed inequities and associated disparities in HIV care and infections.

On this National Black HIV Awareness Day, we would like to speak about the stigma associated with HIV infection. Within our communities this undeserved stigma has made it very difficult to effectively address HIV risk. ACRE understands that our community and many groups have come to associate HIV with certain at-risk behaviors. A person can get HIV by having unprotected sex, injecting drugs and rarely from a mother to a child. In spite of this, HIV infection is not a reflection of a person’s moral character. It is our wish to make our community aware of this fact.

Our Commitment to the African American HIV Community

As we do more research, we are learning that community characteristics affect HIV risk more than individual behavior. Most of this research is helping us understand why our African American communities tend to be more affected by HIV. Research suggests that implicit racial bias, high incarceration rates and poverty may make us more prone to HIV. These conditions are mostly outside our control as individuals. On February 7th, National Black HIV Awareness day, our group is making a commitment to you. We recognize that to effectively fight HIV in our communities we cannot put the responsibility only on the individual. We will work with you and for you to bring attention to conditions that put you at risk for HIV but are outside your control. We know individual responsibility is important, but the success of the individual is dependent on good community support.