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Dear Colleague: March 9, 2016

	Dear Colleague, information from CDCs Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention

March 9, 2016

Dear Colleague,

March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD), a day to raise awareness about the impact of HIV on women and girls and take action to ensure they have the knowledge and tools needed to protect themselves from HIV. CDC is pleased to join with our Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) colleagues who sponsor NWGHAAD, the Office of Women’s Health, in support of this year’s theme, The Best Defense Is a Good Offense. Utilizing the most up-to-date scientific, programmatic, and educational approaches, our shared goal is to promote effective, evidence-based HIV prevention strategies for women and girls.

HIV remains an important health issue for women and adolescent girls, who comprise nearly one quarter of all people living with HIV in the United States. African American/black women and Hispanic women/Latinas continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. In 2014, more than 8,000 women aged 13 and older were diagnosed with HIV. More than 6 in 10 of these women are black. But there is good news, too. We are seeing progress in HIV prevention among women. From 2005 to 2014, annual diagnoses declined 40% among all women, 42% among black women, 35% among Latinas, and 30% among white women.

Reducing new infections and the disproportionate rate of HIV among black women and Latinas is a priority of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States: Updated to 2020. Prevention, testing, and treatment are the three elements that will make a difference. Biomedical prevention options such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for women at high risk for HIV and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) after a potential exposure to HIV are proving to be very effective at lowering risk. A 2015 study showed that more than 450,000 heterosexually active women in the United States are at very high risk for HIV and could benefit from PrEP.

More broadly, CDC remains committed to ensuring that its prevention efforts address HIV among women and girls. Our work includes:

Funding

  • Awarding cooperative agreements to state and local health departments to
    • develop and implement HIV prevention programs in their jurisdictions for communities most affected by HIV, including black women, Latinas, and transgender women.
    • collaborate with community-based organizations (CBOs) to implement culturally and linguistically competent demonstration projects for comprehensive prevention programs, behavioral health, linkage to care, and social service models that reach women at risk for and living with HIV, including transgender women and women who inject drugs.
  • Awarding funding to CBOs to improve HIV outcomes across the continuum of care, including linking women diagnosed with HIV to care, helping them stay in care, and providing them with other support services.

Research

  • Supporting research on microbicides—creams or gels that could be applied vaginally or anally before sexual contact to prevent HIV transmission.

Collaboration

  • Working with White House partners on multiple activities to address the intersection between HIV and violence against women, which increases women’s risk for HIV and is associated with poorer health outcomes among women living with HIV.
  • Working with other HHS agencies to reduce HIV and AIDS-related morbidity and mortality among women as part of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020.

Communication

  • Implementing Act Against AIDS, a national communications initiative that focuses attention on HIV through campaigns such as our newly released Doing It campaign, designed to motivate all adults to get tested for HIV and know their HIV status.

We have much more to do, but we have more reasons than ever to believe that by working together we can continue to make progress against HIV among women and girls. Thank you for joining us in this important work.

Sincerely,

/Jonathan H. Mermin/

Jonathan H. Mermin, MD, MPH
RADM and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS
Director
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/nchhstp

/Eugene McCray/

Eugene McCray, MD
Director
Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/hiv

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