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HIV/AIDS still a significant toll on African Americans

ATLANTA – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV of all racial groups in the United States.  

"African Americans are disproportionately represented, not only in new infections, but in disease status across the board," says Drenna Waldrop-Valverde, PhD, who holds dual faculty appointments in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and the Rollins School of Public Health. "African Americans are more likely to have a greater representation among those who are sicker and those who die from the disease."

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a national HIV/AIDS testing and treatment community initiative designed to encourage blacks across the United States and territorial areas to get educated, tested, involved and treated.  

"Observances like National Black/HIV Awareness Day are tremendously helpful in raising the public’s awareness of the huge problem HIV/AIDS is in the African -American community and all over the country," says Waldrop-Valverde.  

Waldrop-Valverde is the principal investigator of an NIH-funded study examining the effects of health literacy on medication compliance in African Americans living with HIV/AIDS.  

'We need to determine if African Americans living with HIV/AIDS may be more likely to misunderstand their medication instructions because of poor health literacy skills, putting them at greater risk for advanced disease,' says Waldrop-Valverde. 'Taking medications just as the doctor tells you to take them, day in and day out, can have a greater benefit on the health  of those with HIV than nearly any other factor.'

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