March 8, 2017
by Monique Howell, PWN-USA South Carolina
Women and girls who are living with HIV/AIDS wear many hats. We are mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, wives, caretakers, friends–and the many hats can go on and on. National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day is a day where we observe many women and girls on their needs and values around HIV/AIDS. We want to empower women and girls to get tested and also feel SAFE.
The growing numbers in women alone being diagnosed each year still remains high. I believe we should come together and see what needs to be done to get women and girls into proper care and treatment without any risk of their home, job or children being taken away. Women fear these things being taken away, because society has led us to believe that “we must” do this or do that before even taking care of ourselves. Many times we fall short on our own self-care because we are trying to take care of everyone else’s needs and wants. This also causes many women not to seek the proper care that they need. I’ve learned to say “NO” and that is OK to say it. Girls over the age of 13 don’t have many safe outlets to go to after finding out their diagnosis. Girls too need to feel love and know that there is still LIFE after a HIV diagnosis.
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy has set goals to reduce new HIV infections. One goal is to make sure more people diagnosed with HIV achieve viral suppression (keeping their virus under control and at a level that diminishes their risk of transmitting HIV to a partner). Another focus is to increase the use of daily medicines to prevent HIV, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). We are heading in the right direction, but so much more can be done. Women and girls can be vulnerable and bringing in the right educational tools for them to can also help reduce the risk of new diagnoses of women and girls.
We are POWER women! Women and girls are like butterflies, and once we come out of our shells, we turn into something beautiful and unique in our very own way. We can be hurting within, but just like a butterfly, we also know how to spread our wings and fly above the horizon. HIV/AIDS can’t stop our destiny!
Anything is possible!