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Commemorating National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is important

South Side Help Center to Promote Online Video Viewings and Day Spa Drawing

In Chicago Black Women Have 11.8 Times Higher Rates Than That of White Women

Today, March 10, 2020 is the 15th annual observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) as designated by The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), as such South Side Help Center (SSHC) will sponsor a drawing for a free day spa and promote viewership of three short videos which provide education and information to women who are “at-risk” as well as encourage women who are living with HIV to be healthy and live full lives.

The most recent HIV/AIDS surveillance report by the Chicago Department of Public Health shows that in 2017, 81.5% of people living with HIV were men, in contrast to 15.6% being women, reflecting the progress made in deterring the spread of HIV and AIDS. “We believe in and support PrEP and U=U campaigns in reducing the overall incidence and impact of HIV/AIDS,” said Vanessa Smith, Executive Director, South Side Help Center. “However, focusing solely on initiatives which promote medication adherence is not enough to turn the tide on the inequity of new infections in Black communities,“ said Vanessa Smith, Executive Director, South Side Help Center. To Smith’s point, Chicago– reports that rates among African-American and Hispanic women are substantially higher than those of White women. In Chicago, the rate of Black femalesliving with an HIV diagnoses is 11.8 times higher than that of White females, while HIV diagnoses among Hispanic women are 3.3 times more than that of White females. “

“It’s the cultural inequity of services and social determinants of HIV/AIDS that result in Black people, and particularly among Black women, being more vulnerable to infection. Social constructs and greater racial equity in funding by CDPH and other government funding sources directly to Black-led agencies would help to make culturally-competent services more accessible,” Smith continued. “South Side Help Center has multiple programs which specifically target Black people who are “at risk” or living with HIV/AIDS. Our services include providing free, confidential HIV/AIDS screenings across the city and we are an affiliate of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) which has three clinics in Chicago,” Smith went on to say.

HHS reports that today, nearly 1 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with HIV, and nearly 1 in 4 of them are women. Medical experts note that women are more likely to get HIV during vaginal sex because the vagina has a larger area that can be exposed to HIV-infected semen. In addition, semen can stay in the vagina for several days after sex, which means a longer exposure time for women. Also, having untreated (STIs) makes it more likely that a person will get HIV if they’re exposed to it. “We recommend that EVERY woman speak with their partners about their sexual pasts, regardless of race, ethnicity, age or sexual orientation, and even suggest they get tested together,” Smith stated further.


NWGHAAD is an effort for local, state, federal, and national organizations to work collectively on shedding light on the impact of HIV and AIDS on women and girls and show support for those at risk of and living with HIV.

The 2020 NWGHAAD theme, “HIV Prevention Starts With Me: Ending the HIV Epidemic Together,” focuses on the role everyone plays in HIV prevention.

VISIT AND to register for South Side Help Center’s NWGHAAD promotion and www.southsidehelp.orgfor more information on the organization and its comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention and care services and youth violence prevention programs.

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