June 4, 2020

End racism if you want to end AIDS.

IAVI's response to the role that racism and systematic oppression play in the daily lives of black people.

The recent police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade in the U.S. are shining a spotlight on the role that racism and systematic oppression play in the daily lives of black people. These same injustices are also at the root of the disproportionate impact of HIV in black communities around the world.

According to the Black AIDS Institute, black Americans account for 13% of the U.S. population but represent 25% of those killed by police. The same group also bears a disproportionate burden of the country’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. For example, black U.S. youth aged 13-29 years were 10.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than their young white peers from 2010-2014.1

Racism does not exist only in the U.S. This is a global phenomenon that plays out in all the communities we serve. In South Africa, news headlines abound with instances of police violence against black people amid the country’s COVID-19 restrictions. Not only does this country have the world’s biggest HIV epidemic,2 but black South Africans had the highest overall HIV prevalence compared to other race groups in the country, according to a 2012 national household survey.3

At IAVI, we are committed to ending this disparity through our work to ensure that all people have equitable access to innovative vaccines and therapeutics, including for HIV. We only wish we could develop a biomedical solution for racism. Because until the whole world sees that Black Lives Matter, we’ll never see the end of AIDS.


1 https://blackaids.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20-wtp-report-2.pdf

2 https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/south-africa

3 https://equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12939-019-1055-6