Every year on March 10, our great nation takes time out to spread knowledge about the affects of HIV/AIDS on the female population. For many, the knowledge about HIV/AIDS extends as far as what has learned in sexual health class in high school or from a seminar in college, but as the years roll on the statistics change and knowledge has to be kept current so that we can remain aware of the risks we present ourselves with when making the decision to be sexually active. As women, we have the choice to protect ourselves and to be aware of how HIV/AIDS affects us individually and collectively. I am an advocate for safer sex and regular testing, and I always encourage women to take control of their own sexual health and to carry the condoms that work for their preference, so today's post is dedicated to stating a few important facts about HIV/AIDS and the its affects on the female demographic.
- 1 in 4 people living with HIV infection in the United States are women
- 84% of most new HIV infections in women are from Heterosexual contact
- Only about Half of women who are diagnosed with HIV are in care, and even fewer (4 in 10) have the virus under control
- When it comes to race/ethnicity, gender and transmission category, the fourth largest number of all new HIV infections in the United States in 2010 occurred in African American women with heterosexual contact
- African American women and Hispanic women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, compared with women of other races/ethnicity
It is very clear from viewing these statistics that as women we have to become empowered to take control of our sexual health by choosing to protect ourselves during sex and checking up on our STI status regularly (visit www.gytnow.org to find a testing site near you). Never put your safety or the quality of your life in the hands of anyone else but your own when it comes to your sexual health. Do not let your emotions and hot desires blind you in a moment where you chose to have sex unprotected. Most men prefer not to use condoms and if they had it their way would have sex unprotected most of the time. Be proud to carry protection for yourself and to have autonomy over your health.
These are common facts about HIV that every woman and girl should know:
HIV only affects humans. Currently, there is no cure for HIV, but it can be treated with a series of medications.
The virus attacks the body’s immune system by attaching itself to its Tcells to duplicating itself, destroying those cells in the process.
Overtime, HIV destroys so many T cells that the body’s immune system can no longer fight off infections and diseases. when this happens, HIV can lead to AIDS because of the lowered number of T cells.
HIV is spread through a healthy body coming into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected individual through sexual intercourse, pregnancy or breast feeding, injection drug use, occupational exposure or blood transfusion/organ transplant. The healthy individual becomes infected once the virus filters into the bloodstream.
- The fluids that carry HIV are blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluids, breast milk and rectal (anal) mucous.
- HIV can be transferred through oral sex and anal sex
- Having a STI can put a person at higher risk for contracting HIV
- Using condoms during sex reduces a person’s chances of contracting HIV
- The only way to prevent the contraction of HIV is to abstain from sex
- The symptoms of HIV vary from person to person, but the only way to know if the virus is present in the body is to get tested
- Flu like symptoms are the typical symptoms of HIV, and they normally appear 2-4 weeks after becoming infected.
- Some people never show any symptoms of having HIV and don’t become sick until the virus turns into AIDS
- Men who have sex with men (MSM) within any race is the population affected profoundly by HIV/AIDS
- 1 in 6 people has HIV and is unaware of their infection
- Heterosexual African American women follow behind MSM in the group most affected by HIV/AIDS
- By race, African Americans face the greatest burden of HIV
- Monogamy or sticking to having sex with one partner reduces a person’s chances of becoming infected with HIV