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Dear Colleague: March 9, 2018

Dear Colleague, information from CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention

March 9, 2018

Dear Colleague,

March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. The theme is “HIV Prevention Starts With Me,” which emphasizes that everyone has an important role to play in preventing HIV and encourages women to take action to protect themselves and their partners. On this day, and every day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with its partners to ensure that women have the knowledge and tools they need to prevent transmission and have care and support if they are living with HIV.

Recent data show that prevention efforts are helping to reduce HIV diagnoses among women in the United States. New HIV diagnoses are down among women overall, and the declines are substantial among some groups. HIV diagnoses declined 20% among African American women and 14% among Hispanic/Latina women from 2011 to 2015, while remaining stable among white women. However, one group—white women who inject drugs—saw a 21% increase in HIV diagnoses during that time, even as new diagnoses declined among other groups of women who inject drugs.

Though we are seeing some positive trends, more than 7,000 women received an HIV diagnosis in 2016, and African American women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV compared to women of other races/ethnicities. Among women living with diagnosed HIV, only 55% have achieved viral suppression. Achieving and maintaining viral suppression is important to stay healthy and prevent transmission to others. If we make the most of tools such as treatment with antiretrovirals for people living with HIV, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and behavioral change and condom use, we can see more progress in preventing new HIV infections among women and achieving positive health outcomes among women living with HIV.

Some of CDC’s HIV prevention and care activities for women include:

  • Funding for state and local health departments to support HIV surveillance and prevention programs across the United States, as well as interventions that reach those populations most affected by HIV, including women.
  • Funding for community-based organizations to implement culturally and linguistically competent prevention programs, 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.
  • Support for research on microbicides—creams or gels that could be used as directed before sexual contact to prevent HIV transmission.
  • Act Against AIDS, a national communications initiative that includes campaigns such as Doing It, which encourages all adults to get tested for HIV; Let’s Stop HIV Together, which raises awareness and fights stigma about HIV; and HIV Treatment Works, which encourages people living with HIV to get and stay in care.

Achieving a future free of new HIV infections among women will require all of us working together to deliver high-impact prevention initiatives that reach all women at risk for and living with HIV—and their partners. Preventing HIV among women starts with each of us. Thank you for the role you are playing in this vital work.

Sincerely,

/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

/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

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