Congressional Briefing Highlights Impact of Health Disparities on Women
May 18, 2012
The following research findings -- Women enter later into HIV care; women have a lower likelihood of receiving antiretroviral therapy; women have twice as many HIV-related illnesses; women living with and at risk for HIV are disproportionately low income; women most at risk or living with HIV are more likely to have experienced sexual or intimate partner violence at some point in their lives -- reveal a few of the many instances in which women suffer significant HIV-related health disparities when compared to their male counterparts. To respond to gender inequalities as well as intersecting racial and ethnic disparities, a coordinating body of diverse advocacy and service delivery organizations, including AIDS United's own Director of Government Affairs Donna Crews, formed the 30 for 30 Campaign. With the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the continuation of the Ryan White CARE Act, the 30 for 30 Campaign seeks to ensure that the needs of women living with and affected by HIV, including transgender women, are met at the national level.
On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, the 30 for 30 Campaign, in cooperation with Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA), Co-Chairs of the Congressional HIV Caucus, Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI), Co-Chair of the Women's Caucus, Representative Donna Christensen (D-VI), Chair, Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) and allied community partners, hosted a Congressional Briefing on Women and Girls "Examining the Impact of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women, and Gender-Based Health Disparities." The goal was to educate key legislators, their staff and allied community partners about the landscape of the current state of, and gaps in, HIV prevention and care services for women, especially pertaining to women of color. The speakers indicated that women living with HIV and AIDS comprise over a quarter of the U.S. epidemic. In addition, women of color, particularly Blacks and Latinas, make up more than 80% of the HIV epidemic among women, even though these populations make up only 12% and 14% of the U.S. female population respectively.
NHAS does not specifically address the worsening HIV epidemic among women and girls, therefore, the White House issued a Presidential Memorandum Establishing a Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender-related Health Disparities in March of 2012. Priorities that the 30 for 30 Campaign hopes to achieve in collaboration with the Working Group include: 1) expand and expedite the provision of facilitative support services and housing services for women living with and affected by HIV, 2) make women-centered and more targeted research to identify and address women's needs and 3) produce better data and more targeted research to identify and address women's needs. The 30 for 30 Campaign commends and insists on the federal government's commitment to scaling up a national HIV response to address the needs and rights of women. Gina Brown, a Homeless Case Manager for the New Orleans /AIDS Taskforce, believes that, "For women, HIV is not just a medical disease, it is a social disease," and therefore the HIV crisis in women should be met holistically in order to alleviate both the medical and social diseases.
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