Data fatigue. Do you have it? In the field of HIV, where numbers drive much of the conversation, it’s all too easy to become numb to figures. Globally, 18.8 million women (over half of the total number of people) live with HIV. Young girls age 10-24 are two times more likely to contract HIV than young boys of similar age.In the U.S., 19% of new diagnoses are women and adolescent girls. Here in Texas, more than half of women living with HIV are Black women.
HIV thrives when we ignore the underlying factors of the epidemic: poverty, racism, stigma, and sexism, to name a few.
National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day provides a moment to pause and take in the enormity of the task at hand – ending the epidemic – as well as an opportunity to think about what we want our world to look like. What kind of commitments are we going to make to ensure women and girls living with HIV are empowered and receive the care they need? What do we need to do to ensure that women and girls are less at risk of acquiring HIV? We need to ask ourselves why it is that the epidemic impacts Black women the most in Texas. We can’t ignore the reality that creates the conditions for HIV to proliferate among one set of our community.
HIV doesn’t exist in isolation. If it did, it probably wouldn’t be the epidemic it currently is. The persistence of HIV, despite the decades of research, implementation, and activism, means that now more than ever, we need to work across systems so that we can reduce HIV transmission and acquisition, increase viral suppression, eliminate health disparities, and cultivate a stigma-free climate.
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