Women and girls HIV/AIDS awareness day
Today, March 10, is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. While this day is mainly recognized in the United States, it remains a significant issue in Canada as well. In 2018, it was estimated that between 12,700 - 16,600 women in Canada were living with HIV. That is enough to fill Bell MTS Place in downtown Winnipeg.
Living in a developed country like Canada, it is easy to assume that our healthcare system can deal with health concerns like this. However, rates of infection for HIV have been increasing across all age demographics for the last several years of available data in Canada. In 2018, Indigneous people accounted for 14% of new HIV infections, despite making up less than 5% of the overall population.
Canada is also behind in meeting the UNAIDS global targets: 90% of all people living with HIV know their status, 90% of those diagnosed receive antiretroviral treatment, and 90% of those on treatment achieve viral suppression. Due to discrimination, lack of healthcare access and a higher risk of sexual violence, women and girls who are visible minorities and/or transgender are more likely to be at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
HIV/AIDS is not only a national issue, but an international one. In 2019, there were 38 million people living with HIV globally. Women and girls accounted for 48% of new HIV infections that year, but the rates were much higher in some regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, where women and girls made up 59% of new infections. Of the 1,400,000 adults in Kenya living with HIV in 2019, 62% of them were women. That same year, women aged 15 and older represented 63% of adults newly infected with HIV.
KIDS Initiative is proud to be working with the Kieni Fighters of HIV/AIDS to fight this epidemic in Kieni, Kenya. Along with additional partners like the Institute of Global Public Health, the Kieni Fighters are developing and expanding their Resource Centre, which will will work to reduce the rate of HIV/AIDS infection and increase health-care access for individuals with HIV/AIDS in Kieni by targeting the underlying drivers of HIV risk and vulnerability for women and girls in Kenya.
Join us in raising awareness and fighting for the millions of women and girls who live with HIV/AIDS everyday - in Canada, Kenya, and beyond.
Written by: Carly McAllister
Marketing & Communications Committee