RibbonNational Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) is a community mobilization effort that builds capacity to increase awareness, participation and support for HIV prevention, care and treatment among African Americans. February 7, 2006 marks the sixth year of this annual event.

The primary goal of NBHAAD is to motivate African Americans to get tested and know their HIV status, get educated about the transmission modes of HIV/AIDS, get involved in their local community, and get treated if they are currently living with HIV or are newly diagnosed.

NBHAAD dates back to 1999, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP) funded five national non-profit organizations known then as the Community Capacity Building Coalition (CCBC) which are: Concerned Black Men, Inc. of Philadelphia; Health Watch Information and Promotion Services; Jackson State University – Mississippi Urban Research Center; National Black Alcoholism & Addictions Council; and National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. On February 23, 2001, the CCBC organized the first annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The date was changed to February 7 the following year (2002) and is now recognized on February 7th of each year.

A major inspiration for NBHAAD is Louis E. Harris (1947-2003) who passed on due to complications with bladder cancer. His work and dedication will be missed along with his kind smile and warm words of encouragement. It is hoped that NBHAAD will continue to build the capacity of community based organizations (CBOs) as well as community stakeholders to increase awareness, prevent HIV and get those who need treatment into care.

Currently, NBHAAD is directed by a group known as the Strategic Leadership Council who partners with the CDC to mobilize communities and address specific issues in regards to local epidemics and best practices that are science based and will influence the course of HIV in Black communities across the country.

Initially, the founding body held quarterly meetings to discuss activities, trainings, and/or events that each organization was doing around the country. The concept was to have a day to recognize the devastation of HIV/AIDS and to promote testing, education and involvement within African-American communities.

Now, the Strategic Leadership Council is responsible for strategically directing and overseeing NBHAAD along with the National Steering Committee which assists in the overall planning and coordination of what will occur leading up to February 7. These groups meet via monthly conference calls.

The expected outcomes of NBHAAD are to: (1) increase reporting of accurate up-to-date statistics on the HIV and AIDS epidemic among Blacks by electronic and print media, radio and television stations; (2) increase collaboration and sharing of resources at the national and local levels; (3) increase resources and support including capacity building assistance for health departments, community based organizations and stakeholders serving Black communities; and (4) increase the number of Blacks at high risk for acquiring HIV that receive HIV counseling, testing and other HIV prevention, treatment and care services.

As African Americans continue to be impacted by this disease, the individuals who make up the planning bodies of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will continue to work daily in local communities to use the best programs and interventions to prevent new infections as well as ensure that those living with the disease have access to available care and treatment services.

This is our National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day!