March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This day is dedicated to spreading awareness and educating everyone about how HIV/AIDS affects women and girls. This includes talking about the unique barriers women and girls face when it comes to HIV/AIDS, and how we can help reduce new infection rates in these demographics. Read on to learn how HIV/AIDS affects women and girls, and how you can take charge of your health when it comes to HIV.
Women & girls continue to be affected by HIV/AIDS
Historically, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has deeply affect the gay and bisexual male communities, women continue to experience new HIV infections. And more often that not, don't get access to care or are aware of services available to them. Barriers to care include stigma, economic status, insurance status, and cultural challenges. In particular, trans women and women of color continue to experience higher rates of new HIV infections.
7,000 women received an HIV diagnosis in the United States and dependent areas in 2018.
- Only 7 percent of women who could benefit from PrEP were prescribed PrEP in the US in 2018.
Most new HIV diagnoses among women were attributed to heterosexual contact.
Black women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, accounting for 57% of diagnoses in 2018.
In the US, 21.6% of transgender women are living with HIV (HRC).
HIV is more than three times more prevalent among black trans women than white or Latina trans women (HRC).
In NYC, black and Latina/Hispanic women comprised of 90% of all new diagnoses among in women in 2016.
In NYC, around 60% of new diagnoses among women were in heterosexual women of color age 30 and over.
Challenges and barriers in prevention
There are several challenges and barriers unique to women when it comes to preventing HIV. Social barriers like racism, discrimination, and HIV stigma contribute to these challenges, and prevent women from seeking care or talking about HIV. Here are a few other barriers:
- Knowledge of HIV status: When women are unware of their HIV status, they can't get tested or get access to the services they need.
- Sex partner's risk factors: Some women may be unaware of their sexual partner's risk factors for HIV, which include intravenous drug use and if they are male, having sex with other men.
- Knowledge of PrEP: PrEP is a highly effective HIV prevention method, but awareness among women remains low.
- Mental health: Women who are experiencing mental health issues like depression. PTSD, or anxiety are less likely to seek care for an HIV diagnosis or remain in care.
- STIs: Some STIs, like gonorrhea and syphilis, can increase the likelihood of getting or transmitting HIV.
- Intimate partner violence: Women who are victims of intimate partner violence may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors or be forced to have sex without a condom or medicines to prevent or treat HIV.
Easy steps to care for yourself when it comes to HIV
- Get 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. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to lower risk for you.
- Talk to your doctor about PrEP: Taking medicine daily to prevent HIV infection, if you are at risk for HIV.
- Talk to your doctor about 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.
- Start a conversation with your sexual partner or partners about their status. There are many helpful resources to help you figure out how to talk about it.
What to do if you think you could be HIV positive:
- Get tested. If you haven’t been tested in a while or you’ve never been tested, it’s time! If you’re in New York City, come make an appointment at Apicha CHC or click here to find testing sites nationwide.
- If you are HIV positive, find a doctor who is an HIV Specialist. An HIV Specialist can work with you to get you on HIV medications and help you achieve viral load suppression. If you know you’re HIV positive and are not seeing a doctor, make an appointment with Apicha today.
How Apicha CHC can help
At Apicha CHC, we are very proud of our viral load suppression rate for all our patients, the number of our patients on PrEP, and the number of people we get tested.
Our healthcare providers are specialists in HIV prevention, treatment, and care. If you come for testing and remain for care at our community health center, you will receive consistent treatment from a healthcare provider who can attend to all of your health needs including HIV.
There are three ways we can help:
1. HIV Testing
We provide completely confidential HIV testing services at Apicha CHC. To sign up for our HIV Testing services, click here and select HIV/STD testing from the drop down.
2. We can get you PrEP
If you become part of Apicha CHC's PrEP Program, you will be assigned a medical provider at Apicha CHC who will assess whether PrEP is right for you and will prescribe you Truvada as PrEP.
Our PrEP staff can also help you:
- Enroll in insurance or sign you up for special PrEP cost programs
- Set up your appointments
- Remind you when your pills are running out
- You can easily pick-up your prescription at Apicha CHC's brand new in-house pharmacy or you can use our free delivery service!
You can request an appointment to get started on PrEP here. Be sure to select appointment type as "Access to PrEP/PEP".
3. Become a part of our HIV Clinic
If you know you're HIV-positive and don't currently have a medical provider or aren't happy with the one you do have, feel free to become a part of the Apicha CHC family.
You can request an appointment here. Be sure to select appointment type as "Primary Medical Care".
HIV Specialty Care:
All our primary medical providers specialize in HIV – you do not have to worry about being identified as HIV-positive by seeing a particular provider. Your dedicated provider will take care not only of your HIV, but any other medical condition you might have. This way, you don’t need to see multiple doctors and you can be sure that you are in good hands.
You will receive regular checkups for diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, STDs. You will get necessary vaccines and cancer screenings appropriate for you. Getting your HIV care at Apicha CHC also means receiving annual mental health and nutrition assessments and counseling if needed.
Anal Cancer Prevention Program: One of our newest services is offering our patients anal pap smears and, if needed, high resolution anoscopy and treatment for abnormalities.
Transgender Health Clinic:
We are committed to providing whole person Primary Medical Care to address the distinct needs of transgender and gender non-conforming, gender variant, and genderqueer individuals.
Specific services include: initiation and maintenance of hormone therapy; annual physicals; regular checkups for diabetes; cholesterol, blood pressure, HIV and STD testing; vaccines.
We also provide annual mental health assessments and short term counseling if needed or referral for ongoing therapy. Our case managers can also help you with many things, from helping find you name and gender marker changes, to helping you get gender affirming surgeries.
If you're interested in becoming a patient of Apicha CHC, you can sign up here.