(RxWiki News) The National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was celebrated this week on March 10. To mark the day, various organizations joined together to boost public knowledge and understanding of the impact this disease has on women.
The annual day of awareness aims to focus attention on the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.
Participating organizations highlighted education about HIV/AIDS, promoted open discussion of the disease and stressed the importance of getting tested.
The disease has a major impact on American women. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 279,100 women and girls over the age of 13 living with HIV in the United States at the end of 2009.
What's more, an estimated 15 percent of infected females were unaware of their infection with the disease.
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The Office of Women’s Health (OWH), an office within the US Department of Health and Human Services, reported in 2010, two-thirds of people who contracted HIV/AIDS through heterosexual intercourse were women and girls.
And according to the CDC, “In 2011, women and adolescent girls (aged 13 and older) accounted for 21 percent of the estimated 49,273 new diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States.”
The disease disproportionately affects African American women. Many of the Awareness Day efforts focused on this population, which the OWH reports has a “rate of becoming infected with HIV in 2010 was 20 times that of white women and girls."
While these rates are high, the CDC said there is some good news to be found: the rate of new HIV infections in black women dropped 21 percent in 2010.
The CDC encouraged all women and girls to keep themselves safe through certain practices. Tips included abstaining from sexual activities, being faithful to partners, using condoms, not sharing items like needles and avoiding having sex when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which can increase risky behavior.
Though large numbers of American females are affected by HIV/AIDS, the hope is the National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will help bring these numbers down through education, discussion and increased testing for the disease.
The OWH shared their positive view for the day and for the years to come: “Together, we can educate others, change behaviors, and help shape the future for women and girls.”
The National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is celebrated annually nationwide on March 10 and coordinated by the OWH.