• Gabriela Betancourt, MA, MPH, DrPH

In Honor of National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

The Latino Commission on AIDS in the South takes this opportunity to elevate the needs of women that all too often are hidden; overlooked; dismissed and resourced inequitably.

Did you know?

Women in the South continue to experience a higher burden of the HIV epidemic compared to all other regions and nationally.

In 2017, among those living with diagnosed HIV, 56% of all females were living in the South

A closer look: Latinas Among Latinas, disparities are noted between country/dependent area of birth and transmission category. Compared to all Latinas, the percentage of diagnoses attributed to injection drug use (IDU) was highest for Latinas born in the US (almost 19%). Among those born in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico and Cuba, the highest percentages were attributed almost entirely to heterosexual contact; followed by the percentages of those born in South America, Mexico and Central America.

Women experience the highest-burden during their reproductive years and via heterosexual contact: · Family planning, OB/GYN, and even pediatricians may be important sources of information and intervention that are not being leveraged. · Providers may not conduct sexual histories with women because of fear, discomfort, or assumption that the individual is not “at risk”. · Women may misperceive "risk" once out of their reproductive years, or when utilizing contraceptives (other than condoms) to avoid pregnancy. · Jurisdictional policies geared to limit access to comprehensive, gender-affirming, and medically accurate sexual reproductive health services further constrain HIV prevention efforts.

Call to Action: Do you know your status? If not, consider getting an HIV test!

· It is important to know one's status. · It is recommended that everyone gets tested at least once in their lifetime. But for many women, there are numerous possible exposures that occur throughout our lives. It may be worthwhile to consider asking for an HIV test during your annual physical: TALK TO YOUR PROVIDER. If you do not have one, there are many organizations that offer free of charge, regardless of your ability to pay, insurance, and/or immigration status. To find a free HIV testing location, visit: https://gettested.cdc.gov/

*The category of Latina does not capture the disparity between race within the group i.e. Afro-Latina; Indigenous; etc. * The category of “female” does not capture the extra burden and inequities experienced by Transgender Women and/or those assigned female sex at birth that do not identify as cisgender women.

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