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Alicia Keys shines light on women and HIV

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys shines light on women and HIV

By Diane Webber

      One in 32 African American women in the United States is likely to be diagnosed with HIV in her lifetime.

     “One in 32, think about that,” said singer-songwriter Alicia Keys, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistic at an event. “Thirty years after we first heard of AIDS, it is really a tragedy that anybody is being infected.”

     But people are being infected with the virus in the U.S. and, as Keys said, Black women are affected disproportionately. Keys stammered a little as she read the word “disproportionately” from her notes, and then recovered and repeated it with force saying, “It’s a big word and it’s a bad thing. That’s not acceptable.”

Keys’ comments came at the kickoff of the EMPOWERED campaign, an effort to increase awareness of HIV and AIDS among women, a new part of the Greater Than AIDS public information push by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent part of the foundation.)

     The CDC statistics on women in general and Black women in particular are sobering.

     ·      There are more than 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S., and one-in-four of

them are women.

     ·      The rate of infection for Black women was 20 times higher in 2010 than it was for white women (38.1 per 100,000, compared to 1.9 per 100,000).

     ·      In 2010, 60 percent of women with HIV were African American, 19 percent were Latino, and 18 percent were white, according to the CDC.

     ·      Newly infected Black and Latina women are more likely to be younger, with 23 percent of Black women and 21 percent of Latina women in the 13-24 -year-old age range.

     ·      In 2009, Black women accounted for the greatest share of deaths among women with HIV at 65 percent, followed by white women at 17 percent and Latinas at14 percent.

“That causes a lot of scarring, especially for females in the fallopian tubes. The tubes are so scarred up, it’s very difficult for the sperm and the egg to meet up,” she said. “So, it can be very detrimental to a female in the way of childbearing at a later age.”

     Planned Parenthood’s director of education, Vicki Hadd-Wissler, remarked that communication with one’s partner is very important. She said talking about STDs and testing are the best way to keep yourself and your partner healthy.

     “It is a way to show caring to someone else, that I’m concerned about our health, and I think that is a very good way to demonstrate care for another person,” Hadd-Wissler said.

     During STD Awareness Month, Planned Parenthood Arizona is offering a discount on testing for STDs.




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