Today marks National Women and Girls
HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the United States. It is sponsored by the National
Minority AIDS Council in Washington. The occasion is geared toraising awareness of the increasing
impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls and to encouraging them to protect
themselves from the disease.
to Africa reporter Kim Lewis spoke with Ravinia Hayes-Cozier, director of
government relations and public policy of the National Minority AIDS Council. She
said the focus of the day "is to bring attention to the [rising number of women
who have] HIV/AIDS. In the past years, particularly at the beginning of the
epidemic, it was perceived as a male disease, primarily a gay, white disease."
But now, she said, they're trying to bring attention to the fact that it also
strikes women in the United States, including minority women.
The National Minority AIDS
Council says HIV/AIDS is one of the leading causes of death among African American
and Latino women in the United States and is the number cause of death among
black women aged 25-34. Hayes-Cozier says one reason for this is ignorance. "The
women don't know they are involved with someone who might possibly infect them…."
Also, she said, "they are less likely to be tested to know their own HIV
Hayes-Cozier says these women are
mostly heads of households. They are in relationships with men [whose HIV
status] they they don't know…and in some places, such as in the south, where
poverty is so high, more women are with more than one man and men are with more
than one woman, and it could be simply for economic reasons.