HIV is losing a critical bout in the long and grueling boxing match called AIDS.  And this victory for persons of color certainly is a cause for celebration. 

     According to Michael Smith, writer for the health media outlet MedPage Today, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that that the mortality rates of blacks in the U.S. fell substantially between 2009 and 2012.  During that time, the number of deaths fel1 by 18 percent. 

     However, the number of deaths remained higher among HIV-infected blacks  than among HIV-positive individuals of other racial and ethnic groups–although the gaps seem to be narrowing. 

     Consistent features of the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic have been ethnic and racial disparities:  each year, blacks have been making up almost half of all new diagnoses despite being only 14 percent of the population.  And cases have been soaring amongst some subgroups, including black MSM (men who have sex with men). 

    According to Smith, the CDC stated that this new data illustrate that decreases in mortality between 2009 and 2012 were seen in all groups but were “greater and more consistent among blacks than among other races/ethnicities.” 

     The CDC calculated two rates—the rate per 1,000 individuals living with HIV and the rate per 100,000 population.  In 2012, the CDC reported, “an estimated 8,165 deaths occurred among black persons living with HIV, which was 48% of the total mortality among people with HIV.  That was 1.5 times the 5,426 deaths among whites and 3.2 times the 2,586 deaths among Hispanics or Latinos. 

     “But overall, the number represented an 18% decline in the number of deaths among blacks from 2008 through 2012. 

     “The death rate per 1,000 blacks living with diagnosed HIV fell from 28.4 in 2008 to 20.5 in 2012—a 28% decline—but the rate remained 13% higher than for  whites and 47% higher than Hispanics or Latinos, the agency said. 

     “The 28% decline among blacks was greater than the 22% drop seen among all people living with HIV.” 

     Though this is encouraging and heartening news, we cannot afford “to rest on our laurels,” so to speak.  And let me put it another way:  before you “get horizontal to ‘Git Busy’,” strap on your favorite “latex raincoat!”