New commemorative day: National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness

March 14, 2006

A striking leap in the number of HIV infections and cases of AIDS among girls and women prompted observance of March 10, 2006, as the first National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of Health and Human Services's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH, declared that the day, which will be observed annually, served to raise awareness of the increasing impact of HIV infection and AIDS on women and girls?in the US and worldwide.

A striking leap in the number of HIV infections and cases of AIDS among girls and women prompted observance of March 10, 2006, as the first National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of Health and Human Services's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH, declared that the day, which will be observed annually, served to raise awareness of the increasing impact of HIV infection and AIDS on women and girls—in the US and worldwide.

In 2004, 27% of all AIDS cases in the US occurred in women, compared with only 7% in 1985, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Women of color, especially African-American women, account for the great majority of new cases among women. Younger women and girls are particularly vulnerable: Females accounted for 38% of all persons younger than 25 years who were given a diagnosis of HIV infection or AIDS between 2001 and 2004, compared with 27% of persons 25 years and older.

Dr. Fauci explained that National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day provides an opportunity to encourage women and girls to take personal responsibility for their health and well-being, and reaffirms the commitment of the general public and the medical and public health communities to focus more attention on education, prevention, and treatment efforts among women and girls.