In honor Women’s Month here at eco18, we are taking today to talk about National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus, more commonly known as HIV, is a virus that attacks the cells of your immune system that help fight off infections. However, unlike many other viruses, HIV is a virus that the human body cannot cure on its own. When left untreated, HIV can turn into Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome—otherwise known as AIDS. AIDS is the final stage of an HIV infection and develops when your immune system is so damaged, that it develops opportunistic infections. While HIV/AIDS is a scary and daunting subject, it is important to note that it is preventable and, while you can’t get rid of HIV completely, it is treatable.
A nationwide event on March 10, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness day is a time to promote HIV prevention, and educate the public on how to stay safe, get tested and how to prevent the disease. Here are a few important facts about the relation between women and HIV from aidsinfo.nih.gov:
- Approximately one in four people living with HIV in the United States are women.
- The most common way that women get HIV is through sex with an HIV-infected male partner (sexual transmission).
- Several factors increase the risk of HIV infection in women. For example, during unprotected sex, HIV passes more easily from a man to a woman than from a woman to a man. A woman’s risk of HIV can also increase because of her partner’s high-risk behaviors, such as injection drug use or having unprotected sex with other men.
- Treatment with HIV medicines (antiretroviral therapy or ART) is recommended for everyone infected with HIV. In general, recommendations on the use of HIV medicines are the same for men and women.
- Women with HIV take HIV medicines during pregnancy and childbirth to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and to protect their own health.
To get more involved in National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, here are a few tips:
- Talk About It: When it comes to subject matter that can be somewhat intimidating or scary, the best thing you can do is to stay informed and aware. If you’re a bit too shy to talk to your friends, ask your healthcare provider for some information to keep you educated. It’s their job and there will be no judgement!
- Stay Safe: The most important thing to remember about HIV/AIDS is that it is preventable. Keep yourself safe by having protected sex, never sharing needles, and talking with your partner about their sexual history.
- Get Tested: If you are concerned about possibly being exposed to and contracting HIV, get tested. Getting tested will allow you to start treatment as soon as possible and reduce any potential risks. Even if you think you’re clean, getting a test done will give you peace of mind. And don’t be afraid to encourage your partners to get tested as well so that you know you are staying safe.
- Get Treated: If you are HIV positive, it is important to start taking the proper medications right away to reduce the risk of infection or AIDS. Though there is no known cure, but HIV is a disease that can be managed with the right care.
Though it can be an intimidating subject, educating yourself and others on HIV and AIDS is the first step to living HIV free. So in honor of March 10th being National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we ask that you spread the word and make a difference.