Previous research has demonstrated that antiretroviral therapy (ART) to suppress HIV prevents perinatal transmission of the virus and benefits the health of both mother and child. In the current study, 3 ART regimens were compared, showing that the regimens containing DTG were more effective in suppressing HIV than a commonly used regimen containing efavirenz (EFV).
Women are missing from PrEP messaging
When most respondents in a population don’t know about a particular medication, that means that the word is not getting out. Although efforts may have gotten better since 2013, the reality is that most women still are not considered in the marketing of PrEP especially among people that have some high-risk activities within their lifestyle.
The parallels of this lack of knowledge continue a legacy of female bias when it comes to sexual health topics. The female condom is one example of a tool that was meant to empower women to protect themselves. However, the commitment by the health community to engrain it in our cultural sexual education failed and it is always seen as an option that men and women don’t fully embrace.
From plus online…
The campaign captures 24 hours in the lives of people affected by HIV stigma, which impacts everyone regardless of age, race, or status. The social media-driven campaign, now in its tenth year, is an opportunity for people to share a moment of their day and tell their story, while breaking down the barriers that stigma creates and raising awareness about HIV, as stated in a press release.
“Stigma can isolate and scare people,” said Positively Aware art director Rick Guasco, who created the campaign. “It can also prevent people from accessing care and treatment. A Day with HIV brings people together; it shows that we’re all affected by stigma, and that people living with HIV are just like everyone else.”
We encourage you to take a picture and post it to your social media with the hashtag #ADayWithHIV and include a caption that gives the time, location, and what inspired you to take the photo.
Images can also be uploaded to ADayWithHIV.com, where they will be considered for publication in a special section of the November/December issue of Positively Aware.
We all know that HIV is no longer a death sentence, but to deny that some people still experience it that way — due to fear, stigma, history, and lack of access — is to miss what happens to young Black men today. The ability to get and stay on treatment, to get to undetectable within weeks, to never transmit the virus and live a normal, healthy life isn’t something you can take for granted if you are a working class person of color in the U.S., much less in a different country (read our feature on HIV-positive asylum seekers from Africa on page 32). If you’re a working class, Black or brown woman with HIV, you know this well too: you may dream of affording the “self-care” everyone recommends for you (massages, acupuncture, vacation) but struggle to pay the rent and buy the kids’ school lunches, much less fork over $50 to feel good for an afternoon.
I’m relieved that my friends who lived are now healthy long-term survivors. I’m thrilled that PrEP uptake has risen almost 500 percent, scientists now universally agree that treatment can make you undetectable (and unable to transmit the virus), and that new research has us closer than ever to a vaccine and a functional cure.
But let’s not forget that while most people today won’t ever see their diagnosis devolve into stage three HIV (formerly known as AIDS), some untreated folks will. Without treatment, AIDS can progress quickly, much like it did in those early years.
Since my diagnosis in 1997, I had lived with fear. Fear of people knowing I was living with HIV. I had never witnessed anyone being mistreated because of their HIV diagnosis, but I still developed this fear I didn’t know where it came from. That’s how powerful stigma is! Society tells you to hide away in shame and disgrace. What am I ashamed of? I’ve asked myself this question many times. After all, I didn’t get HIV because I did something wrong. I didn’t ask for it, neither did I deserve it.
It’s taken a lot of courage for me to come out and speak about living with HIV. Although I’ve always been open with the professionals that support me, only in the last year or so have I dared to disclose my status to strangers, albeit those interested in HIV care, treatment and prevention.
I am a person who has been angered by injustice around the world, but I’ve always felt like I didn’t have the power to do anything about it. It saddens me that we have been talking about HIV stigma for decades now, but we have still to reach a place where people living with HIV do not feel judged or ostracised. Well, I have decided that I will contribute my bit to the campaign to end HIV stigma by coming out and speaking more openly about my experiences of living with the condition.
This is my contribution to a cause that has been championed by many well-known people including Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex. I was privileged to work with Avert and Shamal on a video, sharing our experiences of being diagnosed with HIV. Just maybe, the voices of people with ‘lived experience’ will resonate more with everyone. Reading other people’s stories helped me to come to terms with my diagnosis, and I hope our video will help others too!
Black women continue to be diagnosed with HIV at disproportionately high rates relative to white and Hispanic/Latina women, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite recent progress that has seen new HIV diagnoses decrease by 21 percent from 2010 to 2016, black women still accounted for 6 in 10 new HIV infections among women in 2016.
…Prep is one way for black women to protect themselves from the virus.
“When we look at the use of Prep, we find that there are disproportionate uses of the drugs. We find that communities of color use Prep less than other communities. Some are not even aware that Prep is out there,” Angarone said.
…Cost also plays a crucial role in black women seeking treatment. Public health experts believe that making Prep and HIV-treatment medications, such as Truvada, affordable to all populations is vital.
“Cost plays a significant role in women seeking treatment. They want to know that insurance covers it. Insurance coverage for Prep is also important,” Angarone said.
“Ultimately, the health of black women has to be made a priority,” Angarone said.
“We have to ask ourselves as a community, how do we get all of the testing strategies that have been working for other populations in place to bring about similar outcomes to the African American female community?”
About one in four people living with HIV in the United States are women and girls 13 and older. Only about half of women living with HIV are getting care, and only four in 10 of them have the virus under control. Women face unique HIV risks and challenges that can prevent them from getting needed care and treatment. Addressing these issues remains critical to achieving an HIV and AIDS-free generation. This year we are making a special effort to ask Churches and Houses of Worships to join our effort.
On March 9, 2019, Educating Teens about HIV/AIDS Inc. will observe National Women and Girls HIV/ AIDS Awareness Day to bring attention to this important public health issue. The purpose of the observance is to raise awareness of the impact of HIV and AIDS on women and girls. The 2019 theme is “Together for Love: Stop HIV Stigma.”
Educating Teens’ Mother-Daughter Circle and Friends, invite you and your friends’ participation to help call attention to the impact of HIV on women and girls. This event will be held at the University Club; 123 University Place; Pittsburgh, PA 15213; 11:30 AM. Please see the attached documents and respond by February 28, 2019.
Download the registration form for the Mother-Daughter Circle or call 412-973-9524 for more information.
By Tiffany Marrero
I remember the time when I was little, before I had a degree or the knowledge to verbalize that something was wrong: All I knew was the feeling of suffocating. Continually fighting to breathe, fighting to get through, fighting to wake up each morning.
I am not sure whether I was angry at nature or nurture. Whether I was angry at my inability to never fit in, to never seem to know how to shut up or just fold. My inability to accept a “yes” and just swim along the tides. Would HIV have been more bearable if I simply knew how to assimilate? I get a house with a white picket fence, monogamous sex, church three times a week, stay at home? Would it have been more bearable if I had known my mother, black HIV-positive woman, before she gave me up?
Why is that? Well, I think it’s because I didn’t grow up in a black household. My adoptive mother was a Boriqua queen who ran the house and the heart of my father (both were born and raised in Puerto Rico). I was black and, back then in 2000s when everyone my age thought being “Spanish” was looking like JLo or Pitbull, I wasn’t allowed to claim what my Afro-Latina stepmother did. (She often told me she was black, and once, that my white-passing father’s family did not want my caramel-toned stepmother in the family.) While I value her experiences, I needed to see other little black girls with Latinx last names and who loved merengue just as much as I did. There was no “Afro-Latina” then in the South Florida where I grew up. I had no right to be as proud of my parents’ culture as they were, although I was raised as stereotypically as you can get: loud bilingual momma, yuca and yellow rice on the stove, a mechanic father with plenty of machismo. There was no one to help me navigate the world as a black woman. Maybe my anger came because I understood things I couldn’t yet speak.
Stories of my biological mother are few and far between, pieced together and passed to me by the nursing staff of my former hospital in Broward County, where I was born in 1991. I know she was a woman living with HIV when there was inadequate treatment. I know she was black, a mother of at least nine children, dealing with drug addiction and HIV, and she never got to know me. I assume she used drugs because I was born with drugs in my system. I read my hospital report, which says that this beautiful black woman had more demons than I could ever come to understand. Before black spaces, I would have assumed she was doing drugs, running around sleeping with folks to fuel her life. Before black spaces, I would have read my chart and hated her more for passing so much onto me with little support — for making me deal with the so-much before I even learned how to walk. Truth is, black spaces helped me realize that she could only do as much as her chains would let her: I lived. I’m here writing and excelling. A black momma did that, not only did she, but with the weight of oppression on her shoulders. Mission complete. I think she did exactly as she was supposed to do with all against her.
The story was that she named me and that was it. Did she plan a name in the midst of her heightened addiction? Did she pray for forgiveness? To die? To separate from her blackness as I did? Was it her blackness that aided in her losing me to another momma? For a black women with HIV and children in the midst of drug addiction, police and jails and judgmental doctors and child protective services in the 1990s demonstrated a lot of disdain for her, her choices, and the children she birthed.
Women living with HIV perceive many forms of stigma in addition to HIV-related stigma, according to a qualitative study published in the July edition of Social Science & Medicine. Stigma related to living with HIV intersected with stigma associated with gender, race, poverty, incarceration and obesity, according to the interviewees.
“Our findings highlight the complexity of social processes of marginalization, which profoundly shape life experiences, opportunities, and healthcare access and uptake among women living with HIV,” say Whitney Rice and colleagues.
They conducted semi-structured interviews with 76 women living with HIV in Birmingham, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; Atlanta, Georgia; and San Francisco, California. The interviewees were invited to describe their experiences of stigma and discrimination, whether in relation to their HIV status or another aspect of their identity.
The majority of interviewees were black (61%), heterosexual (83%), had children (68%) and had a monthly income of less than $1000 (57%).
Most participants were conscious of men having greater power than women. Women said they were undervalued in educational and employment contexts due to their gender. In interpersonal relationships, men would frequently disregard women’s needs and preferences, while parents would typically favour sons over daughters.
Women were also conscious of being subject to different expectations concerning sexual behaviour than men. Stigmas related to gender and HIV intersect, as this interviewee explained:
“It’s not so bad for [men] to have many sex partners but it’s horrible for a woman to have that many… And she’s a whore and all the other words… But it’s OK for him. That existed before HIV and it’s still in play now… Some dirty woman gave him [HIV] … and they’re the bad person —and then the women … you got it because you was sleeping around.”
Everyone deals with a certain amount of stress every day. But if you are a woman living with HIV (HIV+), stress can become overwhelming. Long periods of high stress can damage your immune system and cause physical and emotional illnesses. Research has shown that stress can speed up the progression of HIV.
In the U.S., recent studies have shown that women living with HIV are five times more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and two times more likely to have survived domestic violence than women in the general population who are not living with HIV. In addition, women living with HIV who experienced recent trauma were four times more likely to stop adhering to their HIV drug regimens and to have higher viral loads than women living with HIV who did not experience trauma.