March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Learn more about how HIV affects women and girls in the United States and how they can protect themselves.
Over 280,000 women aged 13 and older are living with HIV in the United States, and 7,402 women were diagnosed with HIV in 2015. Black/African American* women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, accounting for 61% of recent diagnoses but only 13% of the female population. Though most women who get HIV get it through vaginal sex, women who inject drugs are also at risk for HIV.
Despite these numbers, we have seen great progress in recent years in reducing HIV among women. From 2010 to 2014, new HIV diagnoses declined 20% among all women and even more (24%) among black women. We have the prevention tools to make more progress—if we work to ensure everyone has the knowledge and access to them.
As the awareness day’s theme reminds us, “The Best Defense Is a Good Offense.” Take steps today to protect yourself and your partners against HIV.
What Can Women Do?
Talk about it. Learn the facts about HIV, and share this lifesaving information with your family, friends, and community. Let’s Stop HIV Together, part of Act Against AIDS, has many resources for raising awareness about HIV and includes many video testimonials from people living with HIV.
Start Doing It – getting tested for HIV. Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to help keep you and your partner healthy. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, get an HIV test as soon as possible.
- To find a testing site near you, use the Get Tested locator at Act Against AIDS, text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948), or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636). You can also use a home testing kit available in drugstores or online.
- Learn more about HIV testing.
Protect yourself and your partner. The most effective way to prevent HIV is to abstain from sexual activity and injection drug use. However, if you are sexually active or use injection drugs, today there are more tools available to prevent HIV. You can
- Use condoms the right way every time you have sex. Learn the right way to use a male condom or a female condom.
- Choose less risky sexual behaviors.
- Limit your number of sexual partners.
- Never share needles.
- Talk to your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), taking medicine daily to prevent HIV infection, if you are at very high risk for HIV.
- Talk to your doctor about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you think you may have been exposed to HIV within the last 3 days through sex, sharing needles and works, or a sexual assault.
- You can learn more about how to protect yourself and your partners and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC’s new HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).
Get treated. If you are HIV-positive, start medical care and begin taking medicines to treat HIV, called antiretroviral therapy (ART), as soon as possible. If taken the right way every day, ART can reduce the amount of HIV in your body. Having a low amount of HIV (viral load) is good for your overall health. It also greatly reduces the chance of transmitting the virus to a partner. If you are pregnant, taking HIV medicines throughout your pregnancy can greatly lower the HIV risk for your baby. Learn more about how you can live well with HIV. You can also hear stories of how other people are getting in care and staying on treatment at HIV Treatment Works.