Against a royal blue background, a black banner with white text reads, "February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day." Below the banner, white test reads, "NASTAD recognizes racism and the impact of structure oppression on the HIV epidemic as a public health crisis." A photograph to the right of the blue background shows a person with long brown hair, glasses, caramel colored skin and a green and white stripped shirt holding a sign that reads, "RACISM is a PANDEMIC."

Prioritizing Anti-Racism Work to Address Health Inequities

Black History Month is a time to honor and celebrate the tremendous contributions of Black Americans who have shaped American culture and recognize their role in U.S. history. Black communities have made progress in the fight against systemic racism and discrimination; however, we must continue to make anti-racism and racial justice our top priority to fully achieve equity and justice, especially, in healthcare. Black communities are disproportionately affected by HIV criminalization laws, disparities in uptake and access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), limited access to substance use and mental health services, and unstable housing, which lead to Black communities experiencing worse health outcomes. Data published by the CDC in 2023 stated that 94% of White people who could benefit from PrEP were prescribed it, but only 13% of Black people who could benefit were prescribed PrEP. Additionally, the CDC data stated that social determinants of health experienced by Black communities exacerbate and worsen these health disparities. It is essential for health departments to prioritize anti-racism and stigma in elimination plans, resources, and services to efficiently work towards an end to the HIV, viral hepatitis, and other intersecting epidemics.

NASTAD recognizes racism and the impact of structural oppression on HIV, viral hepatitis, and other co-occurring epidemics as a public health crisis. NASTAD staff and members are intentional in working against racism and addressing health inequities. NASTAD’s staff Anti-Racism Workgroup, Board of Directors Anti-Racism in Public Health Subcommittee, and Anti-Racism and Health Equity Consultants work to identify, operationalize, and share impactful and measurable anti-racist actions across the organization and its membership to dismantle racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and the stigma of drug use as drivers of disparate health outcomes. 

Anti-Racism Workgroup 

NASTAD's Anti-Racism Workgroup is an internal committee of NASTAD staff committed to holding the organization accountable to its anti-racism and diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. The accomplishments of this workgroup include: 

  • Implementing anti-racism and anti-bias trainings for NASTAD staff and Board 

  • Flattening NASTAD’s organizational structure and ensuring all employee handbook policies are equitable 

  • Increasing NASTAD's Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and LGBTQIA+ contractors and consultants 

  • Implementing workforce wellness and trauma-informed supervision practices 

  • Making governance recommendations to the NASTAD Board of Directors 

Anti-Racism in Public Health Subcommittee 

The Anti-Racism in Public Health Subcommittee, a group of NASTAD Board members and staff, worked with the Board By-Laws and Governance committees to implement the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Roadmap developed by NASTAD staff’s Anti-Racism Workgroup. In 2022, NASTAD membership updated its by-laws to ensure the membership and Board consist of diversity in race and ethnicity; programmatic expertise; gender and gender identity; sexual orientation; and lived experiences. Additionally, it was imperative that BIPOC leadership were represented in the Board and membership. The updated by-laws resulted in a majority BIPOC Board with increased representation of members with hepatitis and harm reduction expertise. 

Anti-Racism and Health Equity Consultants 

NASTAD has a pool of Anti-Racism and Health Equity Consultants who provide their subject matter expertise to assist NASTAD staff in developing resources that uplift NASTAD’s anti-racism goals. With support from these consultants, NASTAD staff develops thoughtful, culturally competent, and trauma-informed resources that are used to serve populations impacted by HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, drug use, and other intersecting epidemics. 

This Black History Month, NASTAD is committed to continuing the work to dismantle racist systems to achieve equitable health care for all. Below are NASTAD resources that work to eradicate racism and address health disparities.