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Despite Decrease in HIV Rates, Numbers Remain High Among Blacks

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TWC News: Despite Decrease in HIV Rates, Numbers Remain High Among Blacks
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New HIV cases have dropped nationally about six percent over the last five years, but it remains disproportionately high among blacks. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed this report.

New York City continues to have one of the largest HIV epidemics in the country and according to the latest HIV Surveillance Report. Infection rates are unevenly distributed across the city, with the highest rates among African-Americans.

Here are the latest numbers:

• Nearly 115,000 New Yorkers have HIV/AIDS.

• In 2012 some 3,141 New Yorkers were newly diagnosed with HIV.

• There were 1,889 wi th full-blown AIDS.

• Across the city, there were 1,578 HIV related deaths.

• Although blacks make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population—nationally, African-Americans represent 47 percent of new HIV cases.

"I wished I could say I'm surprised but I'm not," says C. Virginia Fields.

Fields was a familiar face in local politics but for the last six years she has led the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.

"African Americans are not getting tested and getting into treatment and care, or knowing, first of all, their status, so they're not getting treated," she says.

At The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, the focus is on outreach but the struggle is getting people to listen.

"So we're building on those relationships to gain broader outreach into the community—the business community, working with elected officials, civic organizations, your sororities, your fraternities, your masonic temples—because that's the black community," Fields says.

There was some encouraging news in the report.

The overall annual rate of diagnosis for HIV is down more than five percent over the last six years, but given the disparities among ethnic groups, outreach workers say that's little consolation because there is still so much work to do.

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