March 10, 2015 is designated National Womens and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day to highlight awareness and invite women and girls to move into action by protecting themselves and their partners from HIV.
Through prevention, testing and treatment, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), hopes to reverse the trends of this health issue for females.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 280,200, or 23% of the 1.2 million people with HIV in the U.S. are female.
“In 2013, one out of five (9,278) of the estimated 47,165 new diagnoses of HIV infection were among women and girls over age 13,” the CDC reports. “The majority of these diagnoses (87%) were attributed to heterosexual contact.”
Although still very high, the latest obtainable data show some encouraging trends for women and girls.
- The rate of HIV diagnoses among adult and adolescent women decreased from 8.3 per 100,000 in 2009 to 6.9 per 100,000 in 2013.
- The decrease is due in part to a 21% reduction in the number of HIV infections among African American women from 2008 through 2010.
- African American and Hispanic/Latina women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV.
- The rate of HIV infection among African American women remains the highest among all women — 19 times that of white women and almost 4 times that of Hispanic/Latina women.
- Even though about 88% of women living with HIV are aware of their infection, less than half of them (45%) are seeking medical care. Only 41% were prescribed antiretroviral medicines to treat HIV and 32% had achieved viral suppression.
“Antiretroviral therapy (ART) reduces the amount of virus (viral load) in blood and body fluids and can keep people with HIV healthy for many years, and greatly reduce the chance of transmitting HIV to sex partners if taken consistently and correctly,” the CDC reports. “Testing, diagnosis, and achieving viral suppression through treatment are all essential to reducing new infections and improving the health of people with HIV.”
Risk Factors for Women and Girls:
- Having sex without a condom or other protection.
- Anal sex is the riskiest type of sex for HIV transmission.
- Ever having had sex without a condom or other protection with a male partner who also has sex with men.
- Using drugs or alcohol, which can lead to risky sexual behaviors.
- Being sexually abused may lead to difficulty in refusing unwanted sex, exchanging sex for drugs, or engaging in risky sexual behaviors.
- Having more than one sex partner increases the chance that you will have sex with someone who is infected with HIV or another STD.