National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a national campaign to raise awareness about HIV and its impact on women and girls. It is observed on 10 March and Farmworker Justice is proud to work with our Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI) partners, ASPIRA and National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) to promote this important day.
Women and girls have been impacted by HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. Women’s and girls’ risk of HIV is often overlooked, although approximately 25% of those infected with HIV in the United States are women. Black and Latina women are disproportionately affected compared to women of other races/ethnicities. By the end of 2010, Black women accounted for 64% of all estimated new HIV infections among women and Latina women accounted for an estimated 15%. [Source: Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services]
The theme of NWGHAAD is “Share Knowledge. Take Action.” This year we decided to connect with organizations and people and hear from them. We partnered with our Latina AAALI partners ASPIRA and NHCOA, and collected a series of thoughts and reactions on HIV/AIDS and its impact on women and girls from our staff, partner AAALI organizations, organizations we work with nationally and in the field, constituents, and individuals. The thoughts ranged from a few words to page long reactions, poems, and memories. From the words of each submission we created a word cloud image of a hand, and then used each hand to create a larger image of a tree to symbolize courage and strength, life and growth.
The responses we got were truly moving. Some women talked about when they first learned about HIV or when they first experienced the death of someone close to them due to HIV. Others admitted to not really even thinking about women and HIV at all. Before being asked to reflect, they had not realized that women have different risks than men do and that some women may have a harder time protecting themselves from HIV or taking care of themselves if already infected. Some people sent words, powerful words, that came to mind when they thought about HIV and women: fear, exposed, voiceless, orphans, rape, mothers. We received responses in English, Spanish, and even Mixteco. Thoughts came from farmworkers, farmworker organizations, health centers, youth, older adults, national organizations, and organization Presidents and CEOs. To see the word clouds and read the individual messages, please visit our Facebook page.
What we learned is that we need to talk about women, girls, and HIV/AIDS more often and with more people. We need to encourage more women and girls to get tested, help HIV positive women find the care and treatment they need, and work to reduce the stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS in our communities.
Farmworker Justice is a proud partner of the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI) and is working to raise the HIV knowledge, awareness, and action in farmworker and Latino communities. We encourage all our partners, supporters, and friends to “share knowledge and take action” today, on National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and every day.