HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects the Black community in the U.S., with the majority of new HIV diagnoses occurring in our community, and Black LGBTQ+ people being the most affected.
For World AIDS Day, the National Black Justice Coalition is hosting a Twitter campaign in partnership with #TwitterIgnite, using #MyFirstHIVTweet to foster open conversation surrounding HIV and to educate.
“Many people are dying still as a result of HIV/AIDS, which doesn’t have to be our reality,” said David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition in a video promoting the campaign.
The NBJC is a national civil rights organization that advocates for Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+, and same gender loving (LGBTQ+/SGL) people. Founded in 2003, it has a mission to end racism and homophobia while also fighting the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.
World AIDS Day has been honored every year on Dec. 1 since 1988 as a day to educate others, remember those who have passed from AIDS-related illnesses and bring awareness to an epidemic with no cure.
“There have been so many advancements with regard to medicine, social acceptance and community intervention for white folks, there’s this feeling that HIV/AIDS is no longer an epidemic that has the impact that we knew it had in the late 80s.” Johns told The Root. “The exact opposite is true, especially for Black folks, and especially for Black cisgendered heterosexual women, and Black, young people who might be assumed to be LGBTQIA+, but are still developing and figuring out who they are in the world the way most young people are.”
Johns said it was important to partner with Twitter in order to get in touch with Generation Z and increase their education surrounding HIV/AIDS without the stigma.
“And hopefully then they’ll think about getting tested, and connected to care and treatment if necessary,” he said.
NBJC created a toolkit “Words Matter HIV” to give people the language for fostering safe conversations around disclosing a positive status and talking about sexual health and wellness.
“I feel fortunate that I grew up knowing and having been loved on and supported by Magic Johnson. But it wasn’t until last year when Billy Porter reminded people that he invited us into disclosing HIV status, where now people can maybe name two Black folks who are living with HIV,” Johns said. “So the real goal is to shift things such that people who are living and thriving with HIV feel more comfortable inviting others in. So we can all learn better about how to support one another, and get to a point to where we can actually end this epidemic.”