Given the ever-growing size of the African immigrant and refugee population in the United States and the persistently high rates of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B in these communities, recognition of National African Immigrant and Refugee HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis Awareness (NAIRHHA) Day, celebrated annually on September 9th, grows increasingly important with each passing year. This is a day aimed toward bringing local and national attention to these health issues in a way that is culturally and linguistically appropriate. By addressing some of the unique challenges that African immigrants in the U.S. face through awareness, education, and resources, national recognition of NAIRHHA Day will help empower communities to take charge of their own health.
There is presently no existing HIV/AIDS awareness day that addresses the distinct factors influencing the high rates of HIV and viral hepatitis in African immigrants and refugees, groups which are often overlooked or misclassified as “Black” or “African American” in HIV surveillance programs, due to not collecting or reporting on information about country of origin. The objectives of NAIRHHA Day include: raising awareness and eliminating stigma; education about protection against HIV, viral hepatitis and other related diseases; placing control back within the community by encouraging screenings and treatment, as well as hepatitis B vaccination; and advocating for policies and practices that promote healthy African immigrant communities, families, and individuals.
NAIRHHA Day has been celebrated at the local and regional level since 2014. The time for national designation of this important day is long overdue. In recognition of this, the Africans for Improved Access program at the Multicultural AIDS Coalition, the Hepatitis B Foundation, and the Coalition Against Hepatitis for People of African Origin (CHIPO) are collecting organizational signatures to demonstrate the widespread need for and support of this designation. This letter will serve as a springboard for future advocacy efforts later in 2022. View the full letter here.