"A local coalition of agencies has dedicated itself to reaching women and girls about protecting themselves from HIV," said Peter Carr, manager of the STD and HIV Section, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). "Nationwide, as well in Minnesota, more and more women are becoming infected with HIV and we want to make sure our local communities become aware of the situation."
According to MDH, the number and the proportion of cases among females have increased over time in Minnesota. Women represented just 2 percent of HIV infections reported in Minnesota in 1985 but 21 percent in 2010. Through 2010, 1,659 HIV cases have been reported among women and an estimated 1,571 are currently living with HIV in Minnesota. Women of color, particularly African-American and African-born women, continued to have higher rates of infection compared to whites in 2010.
"National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is important because it encourages women and girls in our communities to get tested and educate themselves about HIV/AIDS," said Carr. "New studies show that HIV transmission rates can be reduced by 96 percent when infected persons get into care and treatment. As part of this year's event, information about free HIV testing resources will be available."
Under the theme of, "Women and Girls are Greater Than AIDS," the event will include a women's town hall meeting to view and discuss the video, "Many Women, One Voice." The video features women speaking from a variety of perspectives - educators, HIV positive women, clergy, advocates, HIV negative women, policy shapers and health care professionals. Exhibits, free educational materials and food will also be a part of the observance.
Organizations sponsoring and hosting the event include the Africa Network for Development, Inc. (ANDI), KV Consulting & Services, Center for Families, Miss Africa University of Minnesota, Ocean of Love, STD and HIV Section - MDH, and the Community Education Group/Office of Women's Health – Washington, D.C.
The state's HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report-2010, which includes data specific for women, can be found on the MDH website at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/hiv/hivstatistics.html.
For more information on National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2012, visit the MDH website at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/hiv/worldaidsday/womengirls/index.html or visit the U.S. Office of Women's Health website at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/nwghaad/.