Last Updated on Friday, 30 March 2012 12:19 Written by HIV Alliance News Friday, 30 March 2012 11:32
March is National Women’s History Month. Unfortunately, HIV is a part of women’s history, too.
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was on Wednesday, March 14th, with the theme "Every moment is a deciding moment." While the HIV epidemic in the US has mostly infected men, the impacts on women have increased.
Women made up 8% of new AIDS diagnoses in 1985 and now account for more than 25% of new AIDS diagnoses. In 2007, HIV was the third leading cause of death among African-American women ages 25-44, and the fifth leading cause of death for women overall in the U.S. It remains one of the ten leading causes of death for women in the U.S. Today, one in every 139 women and one in every 32 African-American women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with HIV at some point in her lifetime.
Women most at risk or living with HIV are :
- more likely to have caretaking responsibilities – 76% of women in HIV care have children under 18 in their homes, which can make accessing care more complicated
- more likely to have experienced sexual or intimate partner violence at some point in their lives. Nearly one in four women report they have been subjected to “severe physical violence” by an intimate partner compared to one in seven men
- more likely to be low income – 64% of HIV-positive women in care have annual incomes below $10,000, compared to 41% of men
women have higher hiv-related
mortality rates than men
Studies continue to show that women, especially women of color, have consistently poorer health outcomes despite there being no significant clinical difference in treating men or women living with HIV. What we see happening in the US is that women enter into HIV care later, once the disease has progressed. Late entry factors into women developing twice as many HIV-related illnesses. Late entry and the fact that women are less likely to receive antiretroviral therapy contribute to women having higher HIV-related mortality rates than men.
Women face additional challenges to living HIV-free due to economic disparities and a lack of women-controlled prevention tools such as an effective virucide. Luckily, there are multiple groups working toward solving these challenges. Current advocacy seeks to coordinate and integrate the prevention, treatment, and care of both HIV and intimate partner violence with reproductive health care. A recent Institute of Medicine report recommends, among other things, the addition of “a fuller range of contraceptive educa¬tion, counseling, methods and services” and that “all women and adolescent girls be screened and counseled for interpersonal and domestic violence in a culturally sensitive manner”, since “screening for risk of abuse is central to women’s safety, as well as to addressing current health concerns.” (Article forthcoming: Stone VE.(2011). HIV/AIDS in Women and Racial/Ethnic Minorities in the U.S. Current Infectious Disease Reports, [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22139589.)