Every minute a young woman is newly infected with HIV. This is according to information released by UNAIDS earlier this year. This is an alarming statistic. Every minute someone’s mother, sister, daughter, or wife, is becoming infected with HIV. New HIV infections among women are occurring disproportionately among women of color in the global south and here in the United Sates.
For me, World AIDS Day is a day to reflect. Reflect on the progress made so far on the fight against HIV/AIDS, reflect on the millions who have died from and continue to live with HIV/AIDS, and reflect on what still must be done in this fight. One thing that always comes to mind when thinking about what it will take to get to Zero New Infections, Zero AIDS Related Deaths, and Zero Discrimination is that there must be a focus on young women of color.
As a member of the Young Women of Color Leadership Council, I look to the three goals of the council to think about how we all can play a role in getting to zero. Educate: We must raise awareness among young people, especially young women of color, about the need for reproductive justice and sexual health efforts for themselves and other young people. Include: We need to advocate for the inclusion of young women of color in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the reproductive justice and sexual health programs. Young women of color need gender-specific and culturally appropriate HIV prevention programs that address the complex social, cultural, economic, and behavioral factors contributing to HIV among young women of color. They must be included in all aspects of the program design, implementation and evaluation to ensure that these programs are framed within their specific cultural context. Empower: We need all young people, especially our sisters of color, to get involved in fighting for reproductive justice and sexual health in our communities. We need to work with young women of color to mobilize in their communities and get involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
I believe we can make it to zero and by doing so we must work to educate, include and empower young women of color in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Let’s make our voices heard! Join and encourage others to join Advocates for Youth’s World AIDS Day Blogathon from December 1-7 to share perspectives of how we can get to zero. Post a blog or picture here to make your voice heard!