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National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

3/10/2012

National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day to recognize the special risks HIV/AIDS poses for women and girls, and to raise awareness of the disease's increasing impact on them.

In 2009, nearly a quarter of diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States were among women and girls aged 13 years and older. Additionally, almost 184,000 women and adolescent girls were living with HIV at the end of 2008. More than 101,000 women and girls with AIDS have died since the epidemic began.

Women and girls of color—especially black women and girls—bear a disproportionately heavy burden of HIV infection. In 2009, for adult and adolescent females, the rate of diagnoses of HIV infection for black females was nearly 20 times as high as the rate for white females and approximately 4 times as high as the rate for Hispanic/Latino females. The reason women of color are more severely burdened by HIV and AIDS are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather to some of the barriers faced by many in these communities across the country. To end this epidemic, we must confront the Social Determinants that continue to place these women and girls at greater risk of contracting HIV. Social Determinants of Health are the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, and age, as well as the systems put in place to deal with illness.

Relatively few cases were diagnosed among Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander females, and females reporting multiple races, although the rates for these groups were higher than the rate for white females.

CDC estimates that 1 in five people living with HIV infection in the United States do not know they are infected. Getting tested for HIV is the first step to protecting yourself and others. Knowing your own HIV status and that of your male sexual partners is critical because 85% of newly diagnosed HIV infections in American women and girls result from sex with an infected male partner. Early diagnosis of HIV allows for counseling and prompt treatment. HIV treatment prolongs life and reduces the risk of further HIV transmission. If you are a pregnant woman, it is especially important that you get tested early to help ensure, that if you are HIV-positive, you do not transmit the virus to your unborn child. Encouraging your partner to wear a condom every time you engage in sexual activity is another important way to protect yourself.

Make National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day a day to get the facts about HIV—to learn how HIV is spread, if you are at risk, and how to protect yourself and your loved ones. And, if you are a parent, talk with your kids about HIV. It's time to get tested.

To find an HIV testing location near you, go to www.hivtest.org or text your ZIP Code to KNOW IT (566948). For more information on this day, theme, and events please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health, which is leading activities for this observance.


What Can You Do?
  • Get tested for HIV. To find a testing site center near you, text your ZIP Code to KNOW IT (566948).
  • Talk with your health care provider about your risks for HIV.
  • Get the facts about HIV/AIDS by visiting the Act Against AIDS web site including:
    • The risk factors for acquiring HIV.
    • How to avoid high-risk behaviors.
    • How to practice safer methods to prevent HIV.
  • Talk about HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Volunteer at a local organization that serves people living with HIV.
  • Attend an event near you.
  • Learn more about the impact of HIV/AIDS among women in the United States.
  • Stand up against stigma, racism, and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.
  • Donate time and money to HIV/AIDS organizations.

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