New darrahdejour.com contributor Jennifer Sawyer shares information with us about the current state of HIV/AIDS as it affects women in America.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Founded in 2006, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was created with the intent to bring awareness to women and girls fighting HIV/AIDS all over the world. In partnering with volunteers, the foundation strives to educate the public on two aspects: Prevention methods and the plight of those suffering from the disease.
What You Need to Know
The spread of HIV/AIDS is still prevalent in today’s society, and many women aren’t getting the care they need. As noted by the Center for Disease Control, even though one in four of those suffering from HIV are women, many of those diagnosed will go on suffering without proper treatment.
“Although most (88%) of women living with HIV in 2011 were aware of their infection, less than half of them (45%) were engaged in medical care,” the CDC reported.
Reasons for the lack of treatment can vary. In some of the less developed parts of the world, the complex medications and skilled care required to fight the disease simply aren’t available. Sometimes, even when medicine and care are available, many patients cannot afford the hefty price tag that comes with them.
Perhaps just as heartbreaking, some women actually make the conscious decision to obtain from treatment, even when help is available and affordable. According to WomensHealth.gov, “Even when they know their status, about 1 in 4 women postpone medical care because of barriers such as family, depression, or threat of partner violence.”
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day helps give these women a voice, especially the ones who can’t speak for themselves.
How You Can Protect Yourself
Avoid becoming another statistic, and diligently practice preventative methods. No matter your age, race, gender, or sexual orientation, if you’re sexually active, you can contract HIV/AIDS and other STIs. When engaging in any kind of sexually activity, it’s critical that you use protection.
As explained in the Safer Sex
Guide from AdamEve.com, practicing abstinence is the only way to be 100 percent safe. However, using latex condoms significantly decreases the likelihood of the disease transmitting between partners, making it a relatively “low-risk” activity. They advise that condoms should be used during oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse. Always use the appropriate protection during each activity (male or female prophylactics) and use a fresh prophylactic during each intimate act with every partner.
The only way to know for sure that you do or do not have HIV/AIDS is to get tested. If you’re sexually active, see your doctor, and get tested regularly. Visit AIDS.gov today for more information, and see what you can do to spread awareness and support the cause!
Editor’s Note: One of darrahdejour.com’s favorite sex education and conversation sites is Scarleteen: Sex Education for the Real World
Jennifer Sawyer is a full-time student studying Public Health, and residing in Boston. She fills every free moment she has consuming coffee, writing to-do lists, and promoting sexual health in all ages, genders, and sexual orientations. Follow her on Twitter.