Red shoes — red heels, to be exact — can make a woman feel tall, proud, sexy and noticed. You may see more of them on March 10th, even at church. That’s because it’s National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and the Rock the Red Pump Project is all about HIV/AIDS prevention and education among women. If those stilettos grab some male attention, too, well, all the better.
You may have heard that there’s been significant progress in the clinical fight against HIV/AIDS, which is true. For people already infected, changes included in the Affordable Care Act (often referred to as “Obamacare”) improve access to insurance for people living with HIV/AIDS and other disabling conditions. It also helps people with these conditions retain the coverage they have.
Don’t let that the good news make you cocky (so to speak).
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that women now represent more of the new HIV infections than they did earlier in the epidemic. More than 280,000 American women are living with HIV/AIDS, and in 2010, two-thirds of new AIDS diagnoses among women (64%) are occurring in women of color.
The CDC offers 6 ways women can reduce their risk of contracting HIV/AIDS:
1) Don’t have sex. Nope, not at all. Whether it’s vaginal, oral or anal, you can be at risk.
2) Use a condom. Ignoring #1? Use a condom every time, every way.
3) Don’t share items that might bring you in contact with someone else’s blood or bodily fluids. (Sweat, tears, saliva, snot, feces and vomit don’t contain enough of the disease to infect you unless blood is in it.)
4) Don’t mix alcohol or drugs with sex. If you’re too impaired, you’ll forget about this entire list.
5) Be faithful. One sexual partner – the same one – at a time. Be sure that both of you have completed #6.
6) Get tested for STDs. People who are infected with diseases like gonorrhea, syphilis, or chlamydia are 2 to 5 times more likely to contract HIV/AIDS, and get tested for that, too.
I’d add one more – Stay informed. Online resources like The Body offer everything you need to know.
National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. Special events across the country will continue throughout the month of March. Check to see if there’s one near you.