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HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women
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CDC Statement on National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2017

March 9, 2017

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day logo

March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Women's Health. The theme, The Best Defense Is a Good Offense, calls women to take effective steps to protect themselves and others from HIV. This day is an opportunity to join partners across the nation and take action to ensure women have the knowledge and tools needed to prevent HIV.

Recent progress shows reductions in the number of HIV diagnoses among women and in the disparity in HIV diagnosis rates for African American women, compared to rates for Hispanic/Latina and white women. From 2010 through 2014, annual HIV diagnoses decreased 20% among all women, driven by a decline of 24% among African American women. However, more than 7,000 women aged 13 and older received an HIV diagnosis in 2015, and African American women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV.

Today's powerful treatment and prevention strategies can further improve these numbers and accelerate progress to reduce HIV infections and help women who are living with HIV stay healthy. Biomedical prevention options such as early treatment with antiretrovirals for people living with HIV, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and improved testing techniques can help reduce the impact of HIV among women. But not everyone who needs these tools is getting them. Only half of all women who are living with HIV have achieved viral suppression (i.e., have a low enough level of the virus to stay healthy and greatly reduce their chance of transmitting HIV to others).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is committed to scientifically proven, cost-effective, and scalable interventions that can continue the progress in reducing HIV infections among women. Some of our work includes:

  • Awarding funding (at least $330 million each year under the current funding opportunity) to health departments to direct resources to the populations and geographic areas of greatest need, including women, and prioritize the HIV prevention strategies that will have the greatest effect.
  • Awarding funding to community-based organizations to implement culturally and linguistically competent prevention programs, behavioral health, linkage to care, and social service models that reach women at risk for and living with HIV, including transgender women and women who inject drugs.
  • Supporting research on microbicides -- creams or gels that could be used as directed before sexual contact to prevent HIV transmission.
  • Providing effective prevention, testing, and treatment messages through Act Against AIDS, a national communications initiative that focuses attention on HIV through campaigns such as Doing It, which is designed to motivate all adults to get tested for HIV and know their HIV status. For those who are living with HIV, HIV Treatment Works provides resources to help them stay healthy.

Thank you for working with us to implement high-impact prevention initiatives that give women the tools for a "good offense" to prevent HIV. We look forward to continuing this collaboration and making greater progress in reducing HIV infections among all women.

Jonathan H. Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., is director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eugene McCray, M.D., is the director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.

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