March 13, 2012

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Connects Violence Against Women and Health Disparities

If you’re online early tomorrow morning (Wednesday, March 14), head over to whitehouse.gov/live at 8:30 a.m. (EST) for a White House event commemorating National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

According to a blog post by the Office of National AIDS Policy, the multi-agency event “will discuss the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women, and gender related health disparities. Speakers and panelists will examine the juncture of these three important issues that impact women’s lives both domestically and globally.” Join the conversation on Twitter by following @AIDSgov and @PEPFAR and by using this hashtag: #NWGHAAD

Here’s the full agenda:
* Welcome and Event Overview
* Global Announcement
* Framing the Data: A Presentation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
* Research Update: A Brief Update on Ongoing Research by the National Institutes of Health
* Panel Discussion: Linkage between HIV/AIDS and violence against women; a discussion of these issues and gender related health disparities in the global/domestic context.
* Domestic Announcement
* Global and Domestic Synergy
* Closing Remarks

For more on how PEPFAR — the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief — is integrating the issue of gender-based violence in prevention and response programs, take a look at this detailed program guide. This introduction is an important statement:

There is growing consensus that HIV prevention programs must not only address the biomedical and behavioral factors involved in transmission, but also the underlying social and structural drivers that increase vulnerability. Social, political, and economic inequities fuel women’s and girls’ vulnerability to HIV and GBV. Likewise, stigma and discrimination, including against MARPs such as MSM, sex workers, transgender people, and people who inject drugs, make it impossible to prevent or treat HIV through biomedical and behavioral approaches alone. While the evidence base for both HIV structural prevention and GBV prevention are limited, strategies to empower women and girls, engage men and boys, and challenge harmful social norms show promise for addressing the underlying drivers of HIV and GBV, simultaneously reducing the risk and vulnerabilities to both.

Domestically, Kaiser Family Foundation last month released an updated fact sheet highlighting the impact of HIV/AIDS on women in the United States. The fact sheet provides current data and trends over time. In 2009 (most recent year), more than 290,000 women were among the approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. Women of color, particularly black women, are disproportionately affected, as are low-income women. And most women with HIV/AIDS receiving medical care have children under age 18.

Here’s a list of events around the country organized in connection with National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The Centers for Disease Control last week launched Take Charge. Take the Test – a HIV testing and awareness campaign from Act Against AIDS. The campaign ill include radio, billboard and transit advertising along with a website and community outreach efforts in 10 metro areas where African American women are most affected by HIV.


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