PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
February 6, 2020

Judith M. Persichilli

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

2020 Theme: “We’re in This, Together”

The New Jersey Department of Health is recognizing Feb. 7, 2020 as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day by urging African American residents to take proactive steps to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and encouraging all New Jersey residents to play a role in reducing the stigma about HIV.

“More than 38,000 people in New Jersey are living with HIV/AIDS and African Americans represent nearly half of those individuals,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “While we have made great progress in reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS, it important that we continue to double down on our efforts to end the HIV epidemic.”

Between 2009 and 2018, HIV/AIDS diagnoses among African Americans in the state declined by more than 40 percent. HIV/AIDS diagnoses among African American females reduced by nearly 50 percent. However, disparities persist. 

“Over the past ten years, African Americans have made up approximately 40 percent of new HIV diagnoses, compared to 20 percent among whites,” said Persichilli. “Eliminating these disparities will be a critical component in ending the HIV epidemic in our state.”

In 2018, the Murphy Administration pledged to end the HIV epidemic in New Jersey by 2025. As part of this effort, the Department has been working with partners to promote testing and link individuals with treatment and HIV medications that are effective in preventing transmission of the virus.

On February 4, Assistant Commissioner Christopher Menschner, HIV, STD, TB Services, joined Rev. Vernard R. Leak, New Jersey Human Development Corporation (NJHDC) CEO, at the organization’s annual National HIV/AIDS Awareness Day observance to discuss the Department’s efforts in ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New Jersey. This event was held at the War Memorial in Trenton. The NJHDC is a non-profit organization of the African Methodist Episcopal Church that provides communities with knowledge, skills and services to help prevent and control HIV.

The Department distributed nearly $47 million last year to support HIV prevention and care services including a statewide network of 31 Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) Counselor Programs, nurses in seven harm reduction centers and seven local health departments who provide access to reproductive care and HIV Services, and awareness campaigns encouraging New Jerseyans to regularly test for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI).

Individuals in the PrEP program prevent infection by taking a pill every day. New Jersey PrEP counselors work in HIV clinics, federally qualified health centers (FQHC), hospitals, and community-based organizations around the state.

In 2019, nearly 5,000 individuals enrolled in the PrEP program. In late 2019, Governor Murphy also announced that PrEP counseling will begin this year at New Jersey’s family planning clinics.

The Department’s PrEP program was established in 2016 to provide biomedical prevention services to individuals who are at substantial risk of acquiring HIV. For information on PrEP Counseling or HIV testing sites, visit https://www.nj.gov/health/hivstdtb/hiv-aids/getting-tested/index.shtml or call 1- 800-624-2377.

The funding also supported testing and services for those living with HIV or at risk for the disease. More than 63,000 free, confidential rapid HIV tests were administered at more than 140 locations. Approximately 5,786 patients received HIV-related medications through the New Jersey AIDS Drug Distribution Program in 2019.

The Department also hosted a Harm Reduction Workshop last year to discuss how harm reduction policy and practice can prevent overdose deaths, reduce drug-related stigma and decrease transmission of HIV and hepatitis C. New Jersey currently has seven Harm Reduction Centers, which provide  harm reduction counseling and supplies to prevent and reduce the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne diseases and prevent overdoses.

CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once, and those at higher risk should be tested at least once annually. Healthcare professionals should offer an HIV test as part of routine care.

To learn more about National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, visit https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/library/awareness/nbhaad.html


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For more information, visit our homepage at nj.gov/health.

Last Reviewed: 2/7/2020