Women’s History Month: Join Me in Supporting Women and Girls Affected by AIDS
On March 10, we celebrated National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It was a day to recognize how AIDS affects women and girls in the United States. It was a day to reflect on 30 years of the epidemic, and how it has impacted our young people. It was a day to take a stand.
As Miss Universe 2012 and as a woman, it is important for me to stand with women affected by HIV/AIDS. Shortly after being crowned in December, I made it my personal mission to work alongside communities fighting AIDS, both here in the United States and around the world. Through my new role, I have been introduced to a number of inspiring organizations making a difference for the millions affected by the disease. One of these organizations is the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Working with them, I’ve learned so much about the devastating effects AIDS has on women and children, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Too few mothers have access to services to keep themselves healthy and their babies HIV-free. Too many children are born with HIV. Without treatment, half of these children will die before they reach their second birthdays.
But it doesn’t end there.
We don’t always talk about it, but women and girls in the United States are still in danger. Today, one in five women accounts for new HIV infections domestically, the majority becoming infected as young adults. Far too many of these women don’t know that they are at risk, or that they may already be living with the virus. And sadly, sometimes diagnosis comes too late. Many women may be suffering from complications of AIDS when they learn their status. Others may be pregnant or new moms, learning later that their children may have the virus as well.
If we don’t seriously start talking about AIDS in our communities, more women and girls – our friends, our family members – will become statistics in the HIV epidemic. So this month, join me in taking a stand with the millions of women and girls around the world and in the U.S. affected by HIV. Because the more we talk, the more equipped we will be to fight.
Olivia Culpo was crowned Miss Universe 2012 in December 2012. In her role, Olivia travels around the world bringing awareness to important humanitarian issues and inspiring young women to achieve their personal goals and ambitions. Olivia is a passionate advocate on behalf of HIV/AIDS initiatives, and has chosen the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation as an organization she personally supports.