HIV disproportionately affects Black Nebraskans

OMAHA, Neb. (KLKN) — Tuesday is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and local organizations are gearing up to increase testing.

There’s been a lot of progress since HIV and AIDS first became a public health crisis, but the fight continues to increase awareness and testing.

The Douglas County Health Department’s theme for Tuesday is “Making Black HIV History.”

With infections steadily increasing in the Black community in Nebraska, the department decided to set up free testing inside the clinic and at local libraries.

The latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates show that African Americans account for a little over 5% of Nebraska’s population.

But 25% of the nearly 400 cases of HIV between 2016 and 2019 were among Black people.

Douglas County Health Department spokesman Phil Rooney says systemic oppression has a lot to do with the reasons why.

“Lack of access to education, maybe stigma, a lack of access to testing and treatment, so those are the things we are going to be focusing on this year,” Rooney said. “We can help you out by sending you at-home test kits where you don’t even have to show up here until perhaps you are diagnosed, and then we’ll help guide you on treatment.”

Rooney also said there are still myths that persist about HIV and AIDS that are important to educate people on so they are informed and can ultimately get tested.

STI manager Alejandra Rebolledo said home testing offers increased benefits.

“If they don’t have time, if they don’t have transportation or even if they don’t have the money to come to the clinic this is a good option for them to test. They can do it at home, maybe they are embarrassed, or they are afraid of doing it because they don’t know what to expect, so they can do it at home.”

To order and at home HIV testing kit, click here.

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