Reflecting This Week on Women, Girls, and HIV/AIDS
March 11, 2011
Tuesday was the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, and Thursday was National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
in the U.S. – which makes this week a good opportunity to reflect on the impact of the AIDS pandemic on all women throughout the world.
The Meredith Family at the 2010
A Time for Heroes Celebrity Carnival
in Los Angeles.
HIV/AIDS affects nearly 280,000 women in the U.S., and women and girls represent a quarter of all new infections. Knowing one’s HIV status is essential to stopping the spread of the virus, particularly for pregnant women. Antiretroviral drugs can reduce the risk of passing on HIV from mother to child to less than 2 percent. Today, there are fewer than 100 children born in the U.S. with the virus.
Globally, women are disproportionately affected by HIV, with nearly 16 million women and girls living with the virus. In sub-Saharan Africa, women represent 60% of those living with HIV. Even though we have the medications to prevent mother-to-child transmission, there are still more than 1,000 children infected with HIV every day.
In honor of all women and girls in the fight against HIV, we decided to showcase the stories of two mothers and daughters who serve as Foundation Ambassadors: Suzan and her daughter Alee, and Fortunata and her daughter Florida.
In a story very similar to Elizabeth Glaser’s, Suzan learned that she had HIV in 1996, and that her young daughter Alee and son Mitchell were also HIV-positive. Today Suzan’s whole family
speaks for the Foundation and spreads the word about the importance of HIV testing and continued HIV research for children.
Foundation Ambassadors Florida (left)
Read Suzan’s powerful blog
in honor of this Thursday’s HIV/AIDS awareness day.
Fortunata came to the U.S. from her native Tanzania in 1997, newly married and expecting her first child. After a routine check-up, she discovered that she was HIV-positive. She received antiretroviral drugs – that would have been unavailable to her in Tanzania at the time – which allowed her to give birth to an HIV-negative daughter, Florida. Now Fortunata and Florida speak about the dramatic progress that’s been made in Tanzania and in other African countries to reach more women and children with HIV prevention and treatment – and the work that’s still needed to eliminate pediatric AIDS.
Read Fortunata’s story here
For more resources on women, pregnancy, and HIV, read this fact sheet
from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Robert Yule is the Foundation's Senior Media Affairs Manager, based in Washington, D.C.