March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day to recognize the special risks HIV/AIDS pose for women and girls, and to raise awareness of the disease's impact on them
HIV Among Women and Girls
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a time each year when organizations and communities across the United States come together to offer support, encourage discussion, and teach women and girls about prevention of HIV, the importance of getting tested, and how to live with and manage HIV and AIDS.
In 2009, women comprised 51% of the US population and accounted for 23% of new HIV infections. Of the total number of new HIV infections among women, 57% were among black women, 21% were in white women, and 18% were in Latina women. The rate of new HIV infections among black women was 15 times as high as that of white women and over 3 times as high as that of Latina women in 2009.
The reasons why black and Latina women are more affected by HIV and AIDS than women of other racial and ethnic groups are not directly related to race or ethnicity, but rather to the circumstances that place these women and girls at greater risk of becoming infected with HIV. These circumstances may include higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in communities of color, limited access to high-quality health care, poverty, stigma, fear, and discrimination.
Personal factors also put all women at risk for HIV, regardless of age, race, or ethnicity.
•Heterosexual sex puts women at risk for HIV. It is important to know a male partner's HIV status and insist upon condom use during sexual encounters.
•Unprotected vaginal sex puts women at risk for HIV, and unprotected anal sex places women at an even greater risk for HIV transmission.
•Women who have experienced sexual abuse may use drugs as a coping mechanism, find it difficult to refuse unwanted sex, exchange sex for drugs, or engage in risky sexual behaviors, all of which increase HIV transmission risk.
•Sharing equipment contaminated with HIV to inject drugs and other substances increases HIV risk. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can also lead to high-risk behaviors, such as unprotected sex.
•Having a sexually transmitted disease greatly increases the chances of HIV. Women of color are at even greater risk due to higher rates of gonorrhea and syphilis compared to white women.
•Social determinants of health like poverty or limited access to high-quality health care; the exchange of sex for drugs, money, or to meet other needs; and higher levels of substance use can increase HIV risk.
Visit CDC.gov for more information.