HRSA Recognizes National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Content From: Laura Cheever, MD, ScM, Associate Administrator for the HIV/AIDS Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesPublished: March 13, 20233 min read



[On March 10], the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recognizes National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This year’s theme is Prevention and Testing at Every Age. Care and Treatment at Every Stage. This highlights the importance of raising awareness about the impact of HIV on women and girls in the U.S. and encouraging discussions about sexual health, HIV testing, and HIV care and treatment.

In the U.S., about 23% of people with HIV and 19% of new HIV diagnoses are women, and one in nine women with HIV are unaware of their diagnosis. We encourage women to get tested for HIV so they can get connected to HIV care, if they test positive, and access prevention resources, if they are negative.

HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) provides HIV care, medication, and essential support services to more than half a million people with HIV. More than 25% of program clients are women, and nearly 61% of those clients are Black/African American women.

Women who receive care from the RWHAP are far more likely to be retained in care than those not receiving RWHAP services. RWHAP providers deliver culturally appropriate, gender-affirming care to help clients stay in care and on their medications and reach viral suppression. In 2021, nearly 90% of women receiving RWHAP HIV medical care were virally suppressed, which is a significant increase from 66% virally suppressed in 2010. When people are virally suppressed, it means they can live a healthier life, and cannot sexually transmit HIV.

We know it is important to develop interventions that improve health outcomes for women—especially Black and transgender women who are particularly affected by HIV.

The RWHAP Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) Black Women First initiativeExit Disclaimer is focused on developing interventions that improve health outcomes for Black women with HIV. These interventions focus on addressing social and cultural barriers to help Black women with HIV stay in care. The RWHAP SPNS E2i initiativeExit Disclaimer identified two interventions designed specifically for transgender womenExit Disclaimer with HIV. It is special projects like these that give the RWHAP provider network access to strategies and interventions that are proven to help people with HIV get and stay engaged in care. More about these initiatives can be found in the RWHAP Best Practices CompilationExit Disclaimer.

In honor of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and Women’s History Month, please talk to the women and girls in your life about HIV prevention, care, and treatment, and learn how HIV uniquely affects women. Together, we can help to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S.