HIV and AIDS remain a persistent problem faced by almost all over the world, especially by the United States. In many countries, women have been worst affected by this disease since the beginning of the global HIV epidemic. Since March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, it is right time to make people know the basic facts about HIV/AIDS.
Know about the Disease:
HIV is a human immunodeficiency virus that attacks our immune system and destroys the T cells, a type of white blood cells, completely. This will develop into AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) due to which the immune system is too weak, thus by making people susceptible to infections and diseases. Is this disease a curable one? Even though there is currently no permanent cure, with early diagnosis and the right treatments like antiretroviral, people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. If left untreated, this will lead to death. How is HIV transmitted? This virus is found in semen, blood, rectal, vaginal fluids. Transmitted through sexual behaviors, sharing of needles and syringes, breastfeeding if the mother is living with HIV, and also blood transfusion. Why are women and girls particularly at higher risk? Mainly because of lack of access to health care services, gender inequality, cultural, social and economic status and violence faced by women and adolescent girls in the society. Poverty is also one of the reasons for trafficking and sexual exploitation of young women and adolescent girls who may be less educated and no knowledge about the risks of HIV.
Ways to Protect Women and Girls:
- Firstly, learn about HIV/AIDS and share your knowledge with family, friends and the community;
- If you are planning to have a baby, it is better to get an HIV test done before pregnancy for both you and your partner. This will help you to give birth an HIV-free and a healthy baby;
- Always use condoms during sex – best way to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections;
- Before having sex, discuss with your partner about HIV testing and get it done to avoid risk;
- Limit your number of sexual partners;
- Never share equipment like the syringe, needles. Always use clean, fresh needles to inject;
- If you are an HIV affected mother, do not breastfeed your baby;
It is all the more important to create awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS to prevent and protect women and young girls. There are many ways you can do this.
- In this awareness day of March 10, organize an awareness campaign in your community in coordination with the healthcare professionals to make the public aware of HIV/AIDS, its impact, prevention methods and ways to protect young girls and women to save their lives from this disease. Distributing giveaway gifts, like customized wristbands in your awareness campaign is the best choice to create awareness. People love to wear this fashion accessory not only because of its attractive colors and stylish nature, but also the reach they have among people.
- In many regions, girls are denied education due to poverty and many more reasons. Educating them is the added advantage to increase their earning ability and to prevent an early marriage that can reduce their vulnerability to HIV. Educated women have the knowledge to access health care services for themselves and their family.
- Most of the women face gender violence like sexual abuse, trafficking, beaten by partners and otherwise abused in their lifetime. Creating awareness among them can prevent and end this gender violence once and for all.
- It is important to educate young boys and men to respect women and to make them involve in family activities to avoid negative attitudes such as gender violence.