AIDS is the fifth leading killer of women aged 25-44 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 180,000 to 280,000 Americans are unaware they are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) is June 27 and the Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR) encourages women to visit their health care providers for HIV counseling, testing, and appropriate medical care should they test positive.
"Women need to be especially careful," Sherry Marts, Ph.D., SWHR vice president for scientific affairs, said. "Women are more than twice as likely to contract HIV from an infected male sexual partner as males are likely to contract it from an infected female. This is because a larger mucous membrane surface area in a woman's vagina, which can easily be penetrated by viruses, is exposed during unprotected sexual intercourse. This fact obviously reinforces the need to practice safer sex.
"Thanks to advances in research and medicine, HIV-positive patients today are leading longer and healthier lives. HIV testing is not routinely included in physicals and women should talk to their health care providers about testing options. It is better to know one's HIV status and take advantage of the treatments available than to find out when the disease has progressed and is more difficult to manage."
Sponsored by the National Association of People with AIDS, NHTD aims to reach millions of Americans with the message that "it's better to know." The message is particularly targeted at populations in which the incidence of HIV infection remains high, such as African American and Latino communities; adolescents; young homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered men; women of childbearing age; and people who inject drugs. For more information, visit http://www.hivtest.org
The Society for Women's Health Research is the nation's only non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the health of all women through research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1990, the Society brought to national attention the need for the appropriate inclusion of women in major medical research studies and the need for more information about conditions affecting women disproportionately, predominately, or differently than men. The Society advocates increased funding for research on women's health; encourages the study of sex differences that may affect the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease; promotes the inclusion of women in medical research studies; and informs women, providers, policy makers and media about contemporary women's health issues.