According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are over 290,000 women living with HIV in the United States. The fact that men account for most of the cases of the HIV/AIDS in the U.S. doesn’t lessen the severity of the impact on infected women and girls. Research shows, in fact, that women face larger gaps in care and access to education/prevention programs than men face.
According to statistics recently released from the Orange County Healthcare Agency, more than 6,500 men, women and children in Orange County have HIV/AIDS. People aged 20-39 comprise the largest percentage of people with the disease with a growing number of Hispanic and African-American women becoming infected.
This Saturday, March 10, is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This national observance is coordinated by the Office on Women’s Health (OWH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This year, the OWH is partnering with the Greater Than AIDS campaign to ask, “What’s your deciding moment?”
According to Greater Than AIDS, deciding moments are, “everyday opportunities to take action against HIV, whether it is getting tested, talking with friends and family, using condoms, practicing abstinence, or taking medications as directed.”
This week, AIDS Services Foundation (ASF) will be presenting, in conjunction with the Greater Than AIDS campaign and local institutions of higher learning, two events positioned around National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
On March 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Golden West College Multicultural Center and ASF are providing a health fair to heighten awareness about the spread of HIV, especially among women. The fair will feature various interactive activities, an HIV-related movie screening, photo booth and HIV testing.
On March 13, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., ASF, in collaboration with their Women’s Center, will host an expert panel presentation at California State University Fullerton (CSUF). The focus of the program will be the impact of the virus among women.
Dr. Anthony DiStefano, assistant professor in the Department of Health Science at CSUF, will provide the keynote presentation focusing on the basics of HIV and its impact on women. Wendy Lords, MSW, one of ASF’s social workers, and Timothy Alexander II are featured speakers. Joining the panel are two HIV- positive women who are clients of ASF.
In addition to the panel presentations, educational information and free rapid HIV testing will be offered until 3 p.m. at a Resource Fair in the outdoor Central Quad Area at Cal State Fullerton. A similar fair will be presented outside the Student Center at Golden West College.
It is of the utmost importance that women and girls take charge of their health and learn their status. This is more than a one day per year fight. However, having the opportunity to work with a national campaign to offer support, encourage discussion and teach women and girls about the importance of HIV prevention, getting tested for HIV and how to manage and live with HIV/AIDS is a priceless opportunity for AIDS service organizations, and women and girls, around the country.
We hope to see you at one of our National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day events.