The Tools for a “Good Offense” To Prevent HIV among Women and Girls

Content From: Hazel D. Dean, ScD, DrPH (Hon), FACE, Deputy Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionPublished: March 10, 20172 min read


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National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, March 10, is sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health. The theme for 2017 is The Best Defense Is a Good Offense and asks every woman to take action to protect themselves and others from HIV.

Biomedical prevention options such as early treatment with antiretrovirals for people living with HIV, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and improved testing techniques are helping to reduce the impact of HIV among women. Recent data show encouraging signs that women are getting the information needed to make informed decisions and accessing these prevention options to protect their health.

From 2010 to 2014, HIV diagnoses for all women were down 20%; a decline that is driven in part by a decline of 24% among African American women. Good news, but still disparity remains in HIV diagnosis rates for African American women, compared to rates for Hispanic/Latina and white women. Among all women with HIV diagnosed in 2015, 61% (4,524) were African American, 19% (1,431) were white, and 15% (1,131) were Hispanic/Latina. Overall, 86% (6,391) of HIV diagnoses among women were attributed to heterosexual sex, and 13% (980) were attributed to injection drug use.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is committed to interventions that can continue to reduce HIV infections among women. Including

  • Awarding funding to health departments and community-based organization that can direct their resources to the areas and populations of greatest need, including women, and can prioritize HIV prevention strategies;
  • Supporting research on microbicides – creams or gels used before sexual contact to prevent HIV transmission; and
  • Providing helpful messaging through Act Against AIDS, a national communications initiative that focuses attention on HIV testing, prevention and treatment.

Through these and other high-impact prevention initiatives we are working to ensure all women, our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, and our friends, have the tools for a “good offense” to prevent HIV.