Women’s health is an important issue for everyone, from teenage girls to older women. While HIV and AIDS have become much less epidemic in recent years, this virus and many other STDs are definitely far from gone. This is exactly why National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is so important.
But what is the day? And why should we all be so focused on such a health-related holiday? Let’s find out!
What is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day?
March 10 is known as National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Every year on this day, local and national organizations come together to share the impact of HIV and AIDS on women and girls across the country (and the world). This day also helps individuals show their support for anyone living with HIV and those most at risk of contracting the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 7,000 women are diagnosed with HIV each year, with nearly half of these cases occurring in women between the ages of 25 and 44. Additionally, nearly a quarter of the 1 million people living with HIV in the United States are women.
Of course, there are obviously certain factors that make specific populations of women more at risk of contracting the disease. In fact, the National Institutes of Health says poverty and distrust of the healthcare system put some women at a much higher risk of contracting HIV, especially black and Hispanic women. However, any woman who engages in sexual activity or shares needles with another person is at risk of contracting HIV, regardless of ethnicity, age or sexual orientation.
Why getting tested for HIV is so important for women
Unfortunately, HIV is a very serious problem for women especially because of the impact it can have on their future children. Any HIV-positive woman can transmit the virus to her baby at any time during pregnancy, during childbirth or even through breastfeeding. Obviously, infants are at higher risk of contracting the virus if their mother doesn’t even know she has it, which is why getting tested is so important. In fact, knowing you have HIV before you even conceive gives you the ability to take preventive measures and use well-established medical interventions to help reduce your future child’s risk of contracting the virus. It also helps to test your children early too.
According to Women’s Healthcare of Princeton, blood tests and salvia tests can help detect the presence of HIV. The best “window” to get tested is between 10 and 90 days after possible exposure. Additionally, every woman should get tested at least once in her life, regardless of knowledge of any exposure.
How to “stop the spread” of HIV and AIDS
National Women’s and Girls’ HIV/AIDS Day exists for the purpose of education and prevention. If you want to do your part today (and every day) to help reduce HIV transmission rates, the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that women do the following:
- Get a free and confidential HIV test.
- Prevent transmission by using condoms and dental dams.
- Tell your doctor right away if you have an HIV-positive sexual partner, so they can provide you with pre-exposure medication.
- If you are HIV-positive, talk to your doctor about ways to take care of yourself and steps you can take before pregnancy to prevent transmission.
Although HIV/AIDS is a terrible disease, medical technology exists to help us prevent transmission and make living with its symptoms more manageable. If in doubt, be safe and get tested.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, Women’s Healthcare of Princeton, US Department of Health and Human Services
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