As the Director of Programs for the Black AIDS Institute, I’m honored to welcome you to this week’s Black AIDS Weekly in recognition of National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD), upcoming this Saturday, March 10th. Throughout March, which is Women’s History Month, and into April we will highlight the impact HIV has on Black women and the innovative ways that Black woman are showing up for ourselves, our sisters and sister-friends, our mothers and our daughters.
We have seen significant declines in new HIV infections among cisgender women. From 2011 to 2015, HIV diagnoses fell 20 percent among Black cis women. But there is still much to be done to center and uplift Black women. It’s estimated 1 in 48 Black cis women will be diagnosed with HIV in our lifetime and that more than 50 percent of new HIV diagnoses among transgender women occur in Black transwomen. We have made major strides, but let’s not mistake progress with a completed job. There is still much work that needs to be done to achieve health equity for Black women. Ending HIV among women and girls means centering Black transwomen, ending violence against women, including reproductive justice in HIV work, and uplifting other strategies that support the wholeness of Black women, including transgender women.
I’ve done HIV work for over 10 years now and I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day to acknowledge the privilege I have to do HIV work alongside so many powerful women across the country. We stand on the shoulders of giants. Through my colleagues, mentors and clients, I have the pleasure of reveling in the beauty of #BlackGirlMagic every day. When Black women are uplifted, we turn around and uplift others. It’s just what we do. The Black AIDS Institute is honored to celebrate Black women and girls’ brilliance, tenacity, and importance during this month.
This week Black AIDS Institute mobilization coordinator Fatima Hyacinthe will introduce us to some of the new initiatives about Black women and HIV that the Institute will be rolling out in 2018. Fatima will be leading these new Black women and HIV initiatives, and we are excited to be launching a Black Women and PrEP toolkit in honor of NWGHAAD, which she will describe in her article.
Trans women have vast experiences fighting for the rights and resources they deserve; we have much to learn from these women and it’s critical that we center Black transwomen in the fight to end HIV. So in this issue we run the first of our two-part series about 10 Black transwomen around the nation who are transforming their communities and changing the narrative about HIV and transwomen.
We run a ProPublica piece about the life-threatening complications that pregnant Black women experience at disproportionate rates, including a death rate three to four times greater that White women. (Of course, the death of any woman during pregnancy is too high.) Read on to learn more.
Our friends at HIV.gov have shared a piece about work going on in the NIAID Vaccine Research Center’s labs to help broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies last longer while counteracting the virus just as well. Finally, we run an HIV.gov piece about the role data can play in making informed decisions about patient care, and policy and program changes.
We look forward to celebrating National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.