March 9, 2011
Nearly 280,000 US females have HIV/AIDS, with 80 percent of new infections traceable to sex with an infected male partner. In Tennessee, approximately one-quarter of newly diagnosed HIV patients are females. CDC notes that approximately 20 percent of those HIV-positive in the United States are unaware they are infected.
In observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10, the Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) is rallying women and girls to educate themselves on preventive measures and testing. "All women and girls in Tennessee who are sexually active [should] get tested for HIV and learn how to prevent the spread of infection," said Carolyn Wester, MD, medical director of Tennessee's HIV/AIDS/STD section.
"By knowing their status," Wester continued, "women can take steps to protect themselves from HIV, receive treatment, and prevent passing it on to others, including their children."
TDOH offers confidential testing and counseling at all county health clinics. Find a comprehensive list online at http://health.state.tn.us/localdepartments.htm. State grassroots groups provide private testing at no cost; Access www.HIVtest.org for more information. Also, cell phone customers may text their ZIP code to "KNOWIT" (566948) and instantly receive information on nearby testing facilities.
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day endeavors to promote education on HIV/AIDS information, testing, living with and managing the disease. For more information, visit www.womenshealth.gov/NWGHAAD. Call the toll-free National HIV/AIDS Hotline at 1-800-342-AIDS (2437) with questions.