Take Time To 'Share Knowledge and Take Action' On National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day!

Baltimore, MD (March 6, 2014) – The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) joins the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health (OWH), and local community organizations in observing National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10. This year’s theme is “Share Knowledge, Take Action.”

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Almost 1 in 6 (15.8%) are unaware of their infection. The CDC also reveals that symptoms for HIV may be flu-like for the first 2 to 4 weeks after exposure. Fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, or a rash can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. During this time, HIV may not show up on a test, but people who have the virus are highly infectious and can spread the infection to others. Routine testing should be a priority for everyone.

“Women and girls who are 13-64 years of age are asked to take action and get tested for HIV,” said Dr. Laura Herrera, DHMH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services. “Women who test positive for HIV should see their physician, take the prescribed medications, and encourage their partners to get tested and treated for the virus."

Pregnant women infected by HIV can receive treatments to lower the chance of passing the virus to their baby.

In 2011, Maryland was fourth among U.S. states and territories in estimated adult/adolescent HIV diagnosis rates at 36.4 per 100,000. At the end of 2011, there were 10,235 women and girls living with HIV (all ages included); 65.7% of the adult/adolescent women with HIV in Maryland were exposed through heterosexual exposure, and 33.7% were exposed through injection drug use . A total of 1,311 new adult/adolescent HIV cases were diagnosed in Maryland during 2011. Of the 1,311 newly diagnosed adult/adolescent HIV cases, 22.6% were African American women, 4.5% were White women, and 2.1% were Hispanic women .

HIV is preventable if people engage in prevention behaviors recommended by the CDC. Condoms should be used consistently and correctly during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. In order to make wise decisions, people should not be intoxicated by alcohol and drugs; and people should avoid having multiple sex partners, sharing IV drug needles, or engaging in sex for drugs or money.

For additional facts about HIV go to 
www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html
To find an HIV testing location near you visit
www.hivtest.org
For information on local HIV care services and partner notification go to
http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OIDPCS/CHCS/SitePages/Home.aspx  or call 410-767-5227.
For information about HIV prevention, testing, treatment and support services go to
http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OIDPCS/CHP/SitePages/Home.aspx.
A list of local NWGHAAD activities throughout the State is located at
http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/SitePages/infectious_disease.aspx under Hot Topics.
To access federal government websites for NWGHAAD go to
http://www.aids.gov/news-and-events/awareness-days/women-and-girls/ and www.womenshealth.gov/nwghaad.
To secure free educational materials for Maryland-based agencies call the Materials Distribution Center at 410-799-1940 or call the Infectious Disease Bureau at 1-800-358-9001.

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