WORLD Commemorates National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

My Sister’s Keeper

Oakland, CA – February 7, 2012 – Today is the 12th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), a national community mobilization initiative promoting HIV awareness, education, testing and treatment targeting African Americans, who are disproportionately at risk for HIV/AIDS.  This year’s theme, “I am My Brother’s/Sister’s keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS,” resonates soundly at Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Diseases (WORLD), where the organization’s motto is “You Are Not Alone.”

In fact, women living with HIV/AIDS are in need of support more than ever, according to Cynthia Carey-Grant, WORLD’s executive director. Carey-Grant says just look at the numbers reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): women account for more than 1 in 4 new HIV/AIDS cases in the United States., and of these newly infected women, nearly two in three are African-American.

“A great disparity exists between the rates of HIV infections among women, particularly black women, and the level of resources allotted to address this disparity. WORLD reaches out to women to link them to healthcare services and to educate them about ways in which they can advocate for themselves and demand that they be counted,” says Cynthia Carey-Grant.

Carey-Grant says National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day offers a unique opportunity to increase greater awareness about HIV and the risks. For example, most black women (85 percent) who were newly infected with HIV in 2009 acquired the virus through heterosexual intercourse. Additionally, Black women have 15 times the rate of HIV as white women, and three times as much as Latinas in this country. Carey-Grant says compounding these numbers, is the stigmatization women living with HIV face every day, along with discrimination in housing, employment and access to quality healthcare.

As we Commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, it’s important to note that African-American women are more than 21 times as likely to die from HIV/AIDS as white women. Carey-Grant says this startling statistic should give us all pause, as well as ample reason to fight this epidemic.

WORLD will mark two decades of support for women living with, and at risk-for, HIV/AIDS at a gala celebration on March 1, 2012, at the 25th Street Collective in Oakland. Marvelyn Brown, youth activist and author, who told her story on Oprah, will provide special remarks on how she’s faced the myriad barriers as a HIV+ youth and African American woman of color. Master of Ceremony for this historic event is Barbara Rodgers, legendary newscaster for CBS 5 Eyewitness News and current host of Comcast Newsmakers.

For more information about WORLD and the 20 year gala event, visit www.womenhiv.org.

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