March is a time to recognize women and girls.
Additionally, on March 10, we observe National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 23 percent of people living with HIV in the United States are women. I encourage you to learn more about how HIV and AIDS affects those who identify as women and girls throughout our country.
We still have work to do
Social determinants and other factors impact health issues–including HIV and AIDS. And as such, some communities are disproportionately affected. For example, 61 percent of women diagnosed with HIV in 2015 in the U.S. were African American. While some progress is being made, we still have work to do.
We hope you will use the ELCA’s Strategy on HIV and AIDS to take part in a larger HIV/AIDS conversation.
To observe the day, your congregation can pray, worship and dedicate time to learn more about HIV/AIDS. You could invite a health educator to share information in your congregation or community. You could access HIV testing in your community or take part in advocacy around health access, housing, programs and other related policies.
We must challenge discrimination
As a community of faith, we must challenge all forms of stigma and discrimination, including when it is based on gender and HIV status.
On March 10, challenge yourself to take time to learn more about HIV and how it affects the lives of women and girls throughout the United States and around the world. While this is one day in the year, consider how you and your congregation or group might participate in the larger response to HIV in your community.
Megan Neubauer is coordinator for the domestic hunger initiative pilot project and program associate for the ELCA strategy on HIV and AIDS.