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FOR RELEASE: March 1 , 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Women and Girls Encouraged to Protect Themselves Against HIV/AIDS
March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Historically in the United States, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has affected more men than women, however, heterosexual women are becoming increasingly affected. Since 1985, the proportion of estimated AIDS cases diagnosed among women has more than tripled. And although each year more men than women become infected with HIV, this gap is slowly closing. In fact, if new HIV infections continue at their current rate worldwide, women with HIV may soon outnumber men with HIV.

On Saturday, March 10, the Oklahoma State Department of Health will join the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health, in observing the second annual National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Sponsors hope this day will raise awareness among women and girls about HIV/AIDS, stress the importance of testing to learn HIV status, and promote healthy behaviors that reduce the risk of HIV infection.

According to the most recent national statistics available from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 42,514 new AIDS cases reported in 2004. Of those new cases, 27 percent were in women, and of the cases reported in women, 67 percent were in African-American women and 15 percent occurred in Hispanic women. In 2005, women represented 26 percent of the national total of 37,930 cumulative HIV infection cases. Oklahoma's HIV/AIDS statistics indicate that women account for 11 percent of the cumulative total of 3,915 AIDS cases in the state, and 17 percent of the cumulative total of 2,572 HIV infection cases reported in the state.

"Socially, women, especially young women, may be more vulnerable to becoming infected because they often have difficulty negotiating protective sex. Of the new HIV infections diagnosed among women in the United States in 2004, the CDC estimated 70 percent were attributed to heterosexual contact and 28 percent to injection drug use," said Michael Harmon, chief, HIV/STD service for the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

For more information about HIV/AIDS, contact Pat Kelly at the Oklahoma State Department of Health's HIV/STD Service at 405-271-4636, or visit this Web site: www.aidsinfo.nih.gov/other/WomenGirlsHIV.aspx.



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