Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Date in the current year: August 20, 2024

Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (SHAAD) is observed annually on August 20. It was launched by the Southern AIDS Coalition to raise awareness about HIV in Southern communities and improve access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment.

The first AIDS cases in the United States were reported in Los Angeles and New York City. However, in the decades that have passed since then, the epicenter of the epidemic has shifted from urban coastal areas to the South. According to an overview issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2019, Southern states account for more then a half of new HIV cases every year, even though just 38% of the country’s population lives in the region. The South also has more than 52% of the undiagnosed infections in the country.

The impact of HIV in the Southern United States varies by area and race. The region has a higher proportion of new diagnoses in suburban and urban areas than other regions (although the majority of diagnoses still occur in urban areas), and African Americans are disproportionately affected in each risk group (men who have sex with men, heterosexual women, heterosexual men). Another issue with HIV in the South is limited access to HIV prevention, detection, treatment, and care.

The HIV epidemic in the Southern US, especially in the states referred to as the Deep South (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina), is driven by a number of factors, including socioeconomic (high poverty and unemployment rates, the refusal of some states to expand Medicaid coverage, reduced access to social and medical services in rural areas) and cultural (pervasive HIV stigma often linked to stigma surrounding poverty, sexual orientation, sex work, and substance abuse).

Stigma is one of the main reasons why Southern states generally lag behind other regions in knowledge of HIV status and access to care, so it is crucial to raise HIV/AIDS awareness in the region in order to encourage people to learn their HIV status and reach out for treatment without fear of being judged.

Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is one of the many HIV/AIDS awareness days promoted by (a federal portal for domestic HIV and AIDS resources and information) and CDC. It was created by the Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC), a non-partisan coalition of government, community and business organizations and leaders working to end HIV and STI epidemics in the American South. SAC focuses on promoting high-quality and accessible systems of prevention, treatment and care, as well as essential support services, including housing.

SHAAD is meant to raise awareness about HIV in the Southern United States, a region that is disproportionately impacted by the disease, combat HIV stigma, and provide people in the South with education on HIV prevention, access to HIV testing, medical care, and other resources if necessary. You can get involved with the campaign by spreading awareness to combat stigma and promote self-testing on social media with the hashtags #SHAAD and #StopHIVTogether.

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