This National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Speak Up to Inspire Change

March 10, 2016 / By Dr. Marjorie Innocent, Senior Director of Health Programs, NAACP

Every year on March 10, we recognize National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) across the nation as a day to raise awareness of the unique impact of HIV on women and girls, and the prevention and care resources available to them.

As a woman working in HIV advocacy with the NAACP, this day holds special meaning for me.  African American women are uniquely impacted by this epidemic: of new HIV diagnosis among women, more than 60 percent are African American.  This is a senseless statistic that has impacted our lives, our children and our families across Black America.

NWGHAAD is an important reminder that to change the course of the epidemic, we need to break the silence that exists around it.  Through programs like The Black Church and HIV initiative, we have an opportunity to do just that.  By embracing the power of the church and its deep impact on our communities and the fight for social justice, we – as women, as faith leaders, as parishioners, or as advocates – can speak out to educate others on the true causes and impacts of HIV, empowering our faith communities with the knowledge to drive real change.  If we fail to act and alter the current course of the epidemic, it is projected that 1 in 48 African American women will be infected with HIV in her lifetime – that’s compared to 1 in 880 for white women.

Today, I invite you to join me, the NAACP, and The Black Church and HIV initiative in speaking up about HIV’s disparate impact on African American women.

As women, we are natural caretakers and nurturers for our communities.  Today, on National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we are reminded of the importance of giving this same care to ourselves, by taking control of our sexual health and inspiring our fellow women to do the same.

Together, we can and must change the course of the HIV epidemic for Black women across the country, and I hope you will join me and The Black Church & HIV initiative in this important mission.

 

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