Today is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) and this year I’m rocking my red pumps, paired with a blog post, to help spread awareness about the effect that HIV/AIDS is having on women and girls worldwide. When thinking about the way HIV/AIDS has touched my life, I realized that I don’t know anyone infected (at least, I am not aware of anyone in my life being infected). It is possible that someone in my life may be infected and is unaware; the CDC says that one in five people, in the US, may be infected but doesn’t know it. Which is why I urge people to get tested! People are living YEARS longer than what was possible decades ago, but it’s necessary to get diagnosed and get treatment early.
Growing up, I remember being a participant in a program at our local Urban League called A.R.P. (Adolescent Responsibility Program). The program was a great way to keep us young folk occupied; our meetings took place every Thursday evening. We learned about a variety of things; we had roundtable discussions about the issues that we were facing and pre-teens and teenagers. In a way, it was like our own Teen Summit.
Anyway, one of the issues discussed more than once, was safe sex. The great thing about the program was that it kept us informed. The belief was that arming youth with knowledge about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases would help us to make better decisions when we decided to become sexually active. I credit that program, those discussions, with my awareness and with the fact that my status is negative.
According to the CDC website:
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…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.
The CDC website goes on to note that this high rate of infection is likely due to “social determinants”, defined as the way people are born, how they live life and work, their age, and “the systems put in place to deal with illness.”
Here are some more facts:
- 85% of newly diagnosed HIV infections in American women and girls result from sex with an infected male partner.
- AIDS is a common killer, second only to cancer and heart disease for women.
- HIV lives and reproduces in body fluids (blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, breast milk, vaginal fluids, and rectal mucous). Other body fluids and waste products-like feces, nasal fluid, saliva, sweat, tears, urine, or vomit-don’t contain enough HIV to infect you, unless they have blood mixed in them and you have significant and direct contact with them.
- HIV is commonly spread in the following ways: having sex with someone who is HIV-positive, sharing needles or injection equipment with someone who is HIV-positive, and from HIV-positive women to their babies (before or during birth, or through breast-feeding after birth).
- From 2006 through 2009, the rate of HIV infections diagnosed among males remained stable, but the rate among females decreased.
- Among adult and adolescent females, the number of infections attributed to injection drug use decreased, and those attributed to heterosexual contact remained stable.
- In 2009, the rates among blacks/African Americans and whites remained stable. That said, blacks/African Americans accounted for 52% of all diagnoses of HIV infection.
- In 2009, per community, the HIV rates were as follows: 66.6% in the black/African American population, 22.8% in the Hispanic/Latino population, 21.0% in the Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander population, 16.7% in the population of persons reporting multiple races, 9.8% in the American Indian/Alaska Native population, 7.2% in the white population, and 6.4% in the Asian population.
- From 2006 through 2009, the estimated number and the estimated rate of annual AIDS diagnoses in the United States decreased
- In 2009, per community, the AIDS rates were as follows: In 2009, the rates were 44.4 in the black/African American population, 15.1 in the population of persons reporting multiple races, 13.9 in the Hispanic/Latino population, 11.2 in the Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander population, 6.6 in the American Indian/Alaska Native population, 4.7 in the white population, and 3.1 in the Asian population.
For more information, please visit these websites:
Need to get tested? You can go to National HIV and STD Testing Resources, you can text your ZIP Code to KNOW IT (566948). It doesn’t matter which method you choose, as long as you get tested and KNOW YOUR STATUS!
- National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (sassncurlz.com)
- Rock the Red Pump (delialicious.wordpress.com)
- “Red Velvet Cupcakes for The Red Pump Project 500 in 50” and related posts (kitchenlaw.blogspot.com)
- National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (theroot.com)
- “National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day [INFOGRAPHIC]” and related posts (makesmewannaholler.com)