Black lives matter. Our country has dehumanized and targeted Black people from its founding. It is well past time for that to end. We are in solidarity with those who are speaking up for justice and demanding an end to white supremacy and systemic racism.
Racism is a public health crisis, and as public health experts, we have seen firsthand the devastating effects white supremacy has on health outcomes.
To lift up a few of the racial disparities we see in our work:
- Black people are diagnosed with HIV at nearly double the rate of other races.
- Black people are diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases at 5-10 times the rate of white people.
- A quarter of those living with chronic Hepatitis C are Black people.
None of these differences are caused by a person’s race. These disparities are caused by racist structures and systems, and a society that does not value Black lives.
We will not end the HIV, STD, and Hepatitis epidemics until we acknowledge and address the systemic racism and white supremacy that drives these epidemics. We will continue pushing Congress to enact the evidence-based policies we know will improve the health and well-being of Black people.
We will continue to work for an end to mass incarceration, safe and affordable food and housing, high-quality, culturally-competent and affordable health care, and the decriminalization of HIV. We will demand that any national plan to end HIV or address the STD and Hepatitis epidemics includes specific language requiring that resources flow to Black communities. We will fight to ensure that resources are used to break down racial and systemic barriers that limit access to education, prevention, and care services for HIV, STDs, and Hepatitis.
As leaders in the HIV, STD, and Hepatitis epidemics, we stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us. They knew that a movement depends on elevating voices of those most impacted and those most disenfranchised. The decades-long fight to end the HIV, STDs, and Hepatitis epidemics in the United States now depends on our ability to prioritize the health and safety of our Black neighbors. We must all commit to truly valuing Black lives.