Do All Black Lives Matter?

On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Amplifying the Voices of Women, Youth, and Transgender Women


Contact: Olivia Ford, / 347.553.5174

February 7, 2015 – This National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), Black women remain 20 times more likely than their white counterparts to be diagnosed with HIV in their lives – and Black women get sicker, and die faster, from HIV-related complications than white women.

Women living with HIV are overwhelmingly Black women. Throughout the three-plus-decade history of HIV in the US, this has always held true. No demographic shift made it so; Black women have always been most heavily impacted by HIV.

National-Black-HIV-AIDS-Awareness-Day-Carousel-5_HomeThis NBHAAD occurs against the backdrop of a national, intersectional movement asserting that #BlackLivesMatter, with unprecedented focus on the realities of pervasive threat under which African Americans live. But do all Black Lives Matter in all arenas? Where is the federal attention for the myriad concerns of Black transgender women, who face interpersonal and structural violence, devastating rates of HIV incidence, and outrageously poor health outcomes? The National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day toolkit does not include a single mention of Black transgender women, who sources report have a life expectancy of 35 years.

Where is the federal attention for Black women, who were present only by implication in the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy? The President’s 2016 budget, released earlier this week, held all parts of the life-saving Ryan White program intact – except, for the second year in a row, the one part of Ryan White designed to serve women and youth. An attack on services for women with HIV is, by virtue of statistics, an attack on services for Black women. In a world where Black women are consistently devalued, this sends a dangerous signal about the value of women’s lives, health, and well-being.

There is a growing body of research into the effects of past or recent trauma on overall health, and the tremendous potential benefits of trauma-informed care for women with HIV. Addressing and healing trauma has been called the “missing ingredient” to providing truly high-quality care for women with HIV. And Black women, including transgender women, disproportionately experience virtually all circumstances that have been shown to cause trauma – for instance, poverty, histories of racism, incarceration, the constant, looming threat of physical violence by police.

Does the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) believe that #AllBlackLivesMatter? This NBHAAD, PWN-USA urges ONAP to show its commitment to this reality: by supporting the protection of services tailored for women and youth. By making Black and transgender women a priority, and trauma-informed care a mandate, in moving forward with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. By striving to improve the real lives – millions of lives – behind the hashtag.

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