It’s Time to Get Tested: Awareness Day Spotlights HIV Among Women
March 8, 2010— Every 35 minutes, a woman in the U.S. tests positive for HIV— but many others living with the virus remain unaware of their infection. On March 10, events marking National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will urge women across the country to learn their status and take charge of their health.
The theme for this year’s awareness campaign, “It’s Time to Get Tested,” underscores a sobering reality: although the number of women living with HIV continues to climb, many women and girls believe that they are not at risk and do not seek HIV prevention or testing services. This lack of awareness has had a particularly devastating effect among African-American women, whose rate of infection is nearly 15 times higher than that among white women.
But for all women, HIV remains a risk. Biological factors render women more susceptible than men to infection through heterosexual sex; and social and economic factors such as stigma, discrimination, and poverty increase their vulnerability. In addition, women often face greater barriers to care, including lack of financial resources and access to transportation, or childcare responsibilities that prevent them from seeking services for themselves.
Since the mid-1980s, the number of women living with HIV in the U.S. has increased steadily, and in 2007, they accounted for more than a quarter of all new diagnoses. Worldwide, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among women of childbearing age, and women and girls now comprise half of the 33 million people living with HIV.
From free testing and prevention information to health seminars and rallies, local and national groups are planning a variety of events on Wednesday and throughout the month of March. For more information and event listings, visit http://www.womenshealth.gov/NWGHAAD/index.cfm.