National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2013
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a time each year when organizations and communities across the United States come together to offer support; encourage discussion; and teach women and girls about prevention of HIV, the importance of getting tested, and, if positive for HIV, how to live with and manage the disease.
HIV Among Women and Girls
In 2011, women and adolescent girls (aged 13 and older) accounted for 21% of the estimated 49,273 new diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States. Black, Hispanic/Latino, and white women represented 97% (9,901) of estimated new diagnoses of HIV infection among all women in 2011. Among a total of 10,270 new HIV diagnoses among women and adolescent girls, 86% of HIV infections were attributed to heterosexual contact and 14% to injection drug use. Overall, CDC estimates that 279,100 women and adolescent girls were living with HIV at the end of 2009 and that 15% of those did not know that they were infected. This means they are not getting life-saving treatment or taking steps to protect their partners.
There is some good news: New HIV infections dropped 21% in black women in 2010. However, as noted before, women and adolescent girls of color—especially blacks and Hispanics/Latinas—continue to be more affected at all stages of HIV infection than women of other races/ethnicities. Even with reductions in infections, in 2010, the rate of new HIV infections among black women was 20 times that of white women, and the rate among Hispanic/Latino women was 4 times the rate of white women. Fewer cases were diagnosed among women and girls who are Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders, and those reporting multiple races, although the rates for these groups (that is, the number per 100,000 population) also were higher than the rate for white women.
The reasons black and Hispanic/Latino women and girls are more affected by HIV and AIDS are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather to the other social factors that can place them at greater risk of becoming infected. These factors may include higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in communities of color, limited access to high-quality health care, poverty, stigma, fear, and discrimination.
Personal factors also put all women at risk for HIV, regardless of age, race, or ethnicity.
- Having unprotected sex, whether vaginal, anal, or oral.
- Ever having had unprotected sex with a male partner who also has sex with men.
- Using drugs, which can lead to risky behaviors or increase risk by sharing equipment to inject drugs.
- Sexual abuse, which may result in the use of drugs as a coping mechanism. The emotional effects of sexual abuse may result in women finding it difficult to refuse unwanted sex, exchanging sex for drugs, or engaging in risky sexual behaviors.
What Can Women Do?
There are several ways you can reduce your risk for getting HIV. Below are a few things you can do to look out for yourself and stay healthy.
- Don't have sex.
Abstaining from sex means not having any type of sex at all—oral, anal, or vaginal. Abstinence is 100% effective in preventing sexual transmission of HIV.
- Be monogamous.
Being sexually active with only one person who has agreed to be sexually active only with you is one of the best ways to protect yourself from HIV. Your chances of getting HIV will also be lower if both of you have recently tested negative for HIV.
Also, talk to your partner about sex and HIV. Learn as much as you can about their past behavior (sex and drug use) and consider the risks to your health before you have sex.
- Use a condom.
Using a latex condom consistently and correctly every time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex reduces your risk of HIV. Other forms of birth control don't protect you from getting HIV. Male and female condoms are the only effective form of birth control that also helps reduce the risk of transmission for HIV and most other STDs. If you do have sex, use a latex condom every time.
- Don't share certain items.
Don't share needles, syringes and related works or anything else that might bring you into contact with someone else's blood or bodily fluids. HIV is not transmitted by casual contact, so it's OK to shake hands or share dishes with someone who is living with HIV.
- Don't use drugs or alcohol with sex.
Don't have sex when you are taking drugs or drinking alcohol because being high or intoxicated can make you more likely to make unsafe sexual decisions.
- Get tested for STDs.
If you think you may have been exposed to another STD such as gonorrhea, syphilis, or chlamydia, get tested. Being infected with other STDs makes you two to five times more likely to get HIV as a person who doesn't have any STDs. So get tested (and treated, if necessary) for STDs. Find an STD testing site near you by typing your zip code into the testing site locator.
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is coordinated by the Office on Women's Health within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services. 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. In addition, if you are a parent, talk with your kids about HIV. It's time to get tested.
What Is CDC Doing?
CDC is committed to ensuring that all women, especially populations that are most heavily affected, are given the tools necessary to prevent HIV. For example, Take Charge. Take the Test. is a multifaceted social marketing initiative designed to increase HIV testing among black women. This effort, which is part of CDC''s national Act Against AIDS (AAA) communication campaign, helps black women recognize their risk of getting HIV and the need for HIV testing. Let's Stop HIV Together, the newest AAA campaign, fights stigma and raises general awareness.
CDC also provides programs for women to reduce their risk of getting HIV or to stay healthy if they are living with HIV. Examples include RAPP (Real AIDS Prevention Project), SIHLE (Sistering, Informing, Healing, Living, and Empowering), and WILLOW (Women Involved in Life Learning from Other Women). To encourage HIV testing, CDC also funds the Expanded Testing Initiative, which enables health departments to increase HIV testing opportunities for populations disproportionately affected by HIV.
- CDC: HIV Among Women
- CDC: HIV Among Youth
- CDC: HIV among Pregnant Women, Infants, Children in the United States
- Act Against AIDS
Act Against AIDS campaign resources and basic information about HIV and AIDS.
- Take Charge. Take the Test.– This campaign focuses on African American women aged 18 to 34. Young African American women can take charge of their lives by knowing their HIV status—and by taking steps to protect themselves from HIV.
- Let's Stop HIV Together. Visit this campaign to hear and see stories of people who are living with HIV and why it can happen to anyone. Get the facts.
- The Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI) is a partnership between CDC and many of the country's leading organizations that represent the populations most affected by HIV. AAALI was formed to strengthen HIV prevention efforts in black communities.
- National HIV and STD Testing Resources
Locate an HIV and STI testing site near you.
Sponsored by the HHS Office on Women's Health. Empowering women to live healthier lives.
Federal resources on HIV/AIDS.
Information on treatment and clinical trials.
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