LatinaLista -- Since March is a month dedicated to women and women's issues, it's not surprising that today, March 10, isn't just another Thursday. It's actually National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day or NWGHAAD for short.
It's been known for a while that AIDS no longer just impacts the lesbian and gay communities. Nearly 280,000 women are reported to have HIV/ AIDS. Women comprise an estimated 27 percent of new HIV infections in the United States each year and 25 percent of those living with HIV. Many women don't even know they have it.
The news is worse among Latinas.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinas represented a quarter (24%) of new infections among Hispanics/Latinos in 2006 and the rate of HIV infection among Latinas was nearly four times that of white women.
While men account for most HIV/AIDS cases, the impact on women is growing. In addition, research shows that, when compared to men, women face gaps in access and care.
The focus of this year's NWGHAAD is to heighten awareness of the impact HIV/AIDS has on women and girls so that more seek medical attention. Organizers are asking that a number of things throughout the month and year to accomplish this goal:
- Hold a free screening or health fair
- Work with your local media
- Organize a walk to raise awareness
- Host a discussion
- Sponsor a contest
- Get a proclamation issued
An estimated 101,000 women and girls have died of AIDS since the disease was first recognized.
Most women with HIV/AIDS in the United States became infected through sex, frequently in settings where refusing sex or insisting on condom use was not an option due to cultural factors, financial dependence, or even the threat of violence.
It's a sad commentary that in this day and age some women's voices are not respected enough to be heard or honored.