National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a time each year when organizations and communities across the United States come together to offer support, encourage discussion, and teach women and girls about prevention of HIV, the importance of getting tested, and how to live with and manage HIV and AIDS.
In 2009, women comprised 51% of the US population and accounted for 23% of new HIV infections. Of the total number of new HIV infections among women, 57% were among black women, 21% were in white women, and 18% were in Latina women. The rate of new HIV infections among black women was 15 times as high as that of white women and over 3 times as high as that of Latina women.
What Can Women Do?
There are several ways you can reduce your risk for getting HIV. Below are a few things you can do to look out for yourself and stay healthy.
- Don’t have sex.
Abstaining from sex means not having any type of sex at all—oral, anal, or vaginal. Abstinence is 100% effective in preventing sexual transmission of HIV.
- Be faithful.
Being sexually active with only one person who has agreed to be sexually active only with you is one of the best ways to protect yourself from HIV. Your chances of getting HIV will also be lower if both of you have recently tested negative for HIV.
Also, talk to your partner about sex and HIV. Learn as much as you can about their past behavior (sex and drug use) and consider the risks to your health before you have sex.
- Use a condom.
Using a latex condom every time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex reduces your risk of HIV. Other forms of birth control don’t protect you from getting HIV. Male and female condoms are the only effective form of birth control that also helps reduce the risk of transmission for HIV and most other STDs. If you do have sex, use a latex condom every time.
- Don’t share certain items.
Don’t share needles, syringes and related works or anything else that might bring you into contact with someone else’s blood or bodily fluids. HIV is not transmitted by casual contact, so it’s ok to shake hands or share dishes with someone who is living with HIV.
- Don’t use drugs or alcohol with sex.
Don’t have sex when you are taking drugs or drinking alcohol because being high or intoxicated can make you more likely to make unsafe sexual decisions.
- Get tested for STDs.
If you think you may have been exposed to another STD such as gonorrhea, syphilis, or chlamydia, get tested. Being infected with other STDs makes you two to five times more likely to get HIV as a person who doesn’t have any STDs. So get tested (and treated, if necessary) for STDs. Find an STD testing site near you by typing your zip code into the testing site locator.