Yesterday I had the honor of being invited as a keynote speaker by Webster University in support of World Aids Day. The University recently announced a collaboration with the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network on one of many awareness campaigns related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, one of them being the promotion of public health and the HIV/AIDS response and awareness.
According to HIV.GOV, more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and 1 in 7 of them don’t even know it. UNAIDS data revealed that approximately 36.7 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2016. Of these, 2.1 million were children 15 years or younger.
Participating in this work is important to me because I’ve had several family members die as a result of the AIDS epidemic, including my father at the young age of 35. I feel obligated to use my voice to spread to advocate for awareness and solutions to eradicate HIV/AIDS.
Given my career in Financial Services, I am well aware of the role that economic inequity plays as a driving factor in the spread of the virus, but in researching the latest data and statistics I became overwhelmed by the huge gender inequity.
According to amFar, The proportion of AIDS diagnoses reported among women has more than tripled since the early days of the epidemic, from 7% in 1985 to 24% in 2015. Those who remember the impact of this disease in the 1980’s know it was devastating. The fact that the diagnoses rates have tripled for women is alarming to say the least.
Approximately one in four people living with HIV in the U.S. are women and nearly 80% of those women are Black and Latina. In assessing the global impact of new infections among young women between the ages of 15 - 24 the infection rate is 44% higher than their male counterparts.
This is one of the biggest global health issues of our time, yet there is still such a lack of awareness – It is simply mind boggling!!??
Knowledge is power, we must encourage our loved ones, friends and communities to be proactive in getting tested and knowing their status. It is not enough to speak out HIV / AIDS once a year. We must continue the conversation year round. Join me in encouraging our communities to support the United Nation’s goal to eradicate HIV /AIDS by the year 2030. Please spread the word by sharing my post.
Peace and blessings,