The HIV and AIDS epidemic continues to be a considerable challenge and major public health issue among women and girls across the country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four, persons living with HIV in the United States a woman 13 or older. There are approximately 27,000 women who have HIV, that are unaware of their infection. For black women, the HIV incidence rate remains 20 times as high as that of white women, and almost five times that of Hispanic women.
For the past 9 years March 10th has presented us with a day to increase awareness of HIV and AIDS and how it affects and impacts women and girls across the nation. National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day aims to offer support and hope, reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS, and empower women and girls to embrace the theme, "Share Knowledge. Take Action."
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is not a day that exclusively belongs to non-profit organizations, policy makers or public health officials. We need to understand that there is power in sharing our knowledge with one another. Spreading information about the sobering facts and the importance of testing and learning your status are critical steps we can take in order to make a difference, regardless of our age, gender or ethnicity.
Spread the Word
One of the biggest weapons we have in the fight against HIV and AIDS is open and honest dialog about our sexual health and our status. For you, that may mean having a conversation with a medical professional or an open conversation with a loved one or good friend. The more we keep talking, the more likely we are to address this ongoing and serious health issue.
Today, there are many more opportunities to be tested for HIV and AIDS than ever before. Those who prefer to be tested in a healthcare setting can find convenient locations to take a rapid HIV test in order to learn their status through a simple zip code input (see HIVTest.CDC.gov for hours, locations, and contact information).
The opportunity to test at home with the OraQuick® In-Home HIV Test is also now conveniently available for all Americans. The test is an oral swab and provides results in just 20 minutes. The test is based on the same HIV test that healthcare professionals have used for years, and it can be purchased in many national drug store chains and at OraQuick.com.
Debra Y. Fraser-Howze is Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs at OraSure Technologies, Inc. and the Founder of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, the largest and oldest nonprofit organization of its kind in the United States.