National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
March 10, 2016 09:27 AM
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) is observed annually on March 10 to highlight the importance of women and girls taking action to protect themselves and their partners from HIV through prevention, testing and treatment. Sponsored by the Office on Women's Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this year's NWGHAAD theme is "The Best Defense is a Good Offense," and as a proud Black woman, I encourage all of my sisters--transgender, queer, same gender loving, gay, lesbian and heterosexual--to get tested to be part of the solution to fight HIV/AIDS. All women and girls must use their best defense against HIV by practicing safe sex, getting an HIV test, avoiding abuse of drugs and alcohol, and talking to their doctors about PrEP and PEP if they may be at risk. For my sisters living with HIV, the key to keeping your HIV under control is to get in treatment in order to reach and maintain viral suppression. These are the first steps we all can take to end stigma and defend our communities against this disease that continues to wreak havoc on our Black families.
|#DoingIt - Sharon Lettman-Hicks|
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Approximately 1-in-4 people living with diagnosed HIV in the United States are women. Of these, an estimated 62% are African American. On a positive note, new HIV diagnoses declined 40% among women from 2005 to 2014, with the greatest decline seen among African American women (42%). However, these statistics do not include our transgender sisters, who are arguably the most impacted demographic by HIV/AIDS. Too often in HIV data, transgender women are misgendered as men who have sex with men (MSM), so we never have a complete picture of the disproportionate impact on transgender women and girls. At NBJC, we are dedicated to changing this practice and ensuring that our transgender sisters receive the resources and information that they need in order to fight HIV/AIDS, including being counted properly in HIV research in our nation.
I have made getting tested for HIV a major component of my health care regimen for over 25 years. Even now as a married woman, I recognize that HIV does not discriminate, and both my husband and I have a responsibility to each other and our families to know our status. We see this as a key tenet of our relationship to ensure that we are both living our healthiest lives.
On NWGHAAD, I make a plea to all women to get tested--especially Black women and girls. We are the mothers, daughters, motivators, protectors, heads of households and role models in our communities. Today, and moving forward, let us lead by example and Get Tested!
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