Call to Action: Advocacy Agenda

CALL TO ACTION:

 The call to action is clear. Black women and girls account for the majority of new HIV infections, women living with HIV, and HIV-related deaths among women in the U.S. In 2010, Black women accounted for nearly two thirds (64%) of all estimated new HIV infections among women, while only accounting for 13% of the female population. Teens and young adults ages 12-24 and 25-34 accounted for 56% of new HIV infections in the same year. Most new HIV infections among Black women and girls (87%) are attributed to heterosexual contact. HIV was the 7th leading cause of  death for Black women ages 25-44.and by the end of 2010 and over half (60%) of all women living with an HIV diagnosis were Black.

 A number of challenges contribute to the epidemic among Black women and girls including poverty, lack of access to health care, higher rates of some sexually transmitted infections, lack of awareness of HIV status, and stigma. Despite medical advances and programs aimed at prevention and care, Black women and girls continue to be disproportionately impacted by this epidemic.

ADVOCACY AGENDA:

The compelling statistics for Black women and girls relative to HIV/AIDS and other health disparities reveals the urgency for a national agenda that is responsive to the health and well-being of Black women and girls with HIV/AIDS and other health disparities.

The National Black Women’s HIV/AIDS Network, Inc.(NBWHAN),  recognizes the need to articulate with clarity the specific needs of Black women and girls relative to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care, research issues and other health disparities. If the present and future lives of Black women and girls are to be saved a shift in public health priorities must occur. As a community of advocates, we are committed to improving the health and well-being of Black women and girls with HIV/AIDS and other health disparities through advocacy that is focused on education and training, research, and public policy. To this end, NBWHAN offered the following recommendations for action to the Obama administration.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTIONS: 

  1. Support HIV-positive and non-positive Black women and girls and their organizations and networks
  • Listen respond to and include the voices and demands of HIV-positive and non-positive Black women and girls in efforts to bring about needed change in policies, strategies, laws and funding for national and community-based initiatives.
  • Monitor resource allocations specifically for programs and initiatives designed to  respond to the needs of Black women and girls in prevention, treatment, care education and gender-based  violence,
  • Ensure the participation of HIV-positive and non-positive Black women and girls in decision making, at the highest levels so that outcomes reflect the realities of their needs

2. Ensure equal access to care, treatment and health insurance coverage

  • Develop strategies to improve access to health care for Black women and girls and their families, including HIV-positive Black women and girls and their families.
  • Strengthen and expand sexual and reproductive health services and training for health care providers to provide HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention during routine screenings.
  • Increase funding for mental health services and treatment. Encourage and support the development of collaborative efforts among providers to address the multi-layered complex issues of Black women and girls and their families.
  • Ensure access to voluntary HIV counseling and testing that addresses stigma, discrimination and gender-based violence, encourage partner testing, and couples counseling.

3. Ensure that Black women and girls and their families have the knowledge and means to prevent HIV infection

  • Empower Black women and girls to stay HIV-negative by redefining the current definitions of high risk to include economic, social, and political factors, which continue to place Black women at greater risk of HIV/AIDS,
  • Release gender and culturally specific social marketing campaigns targeting Black women and girls and their families,
  • Provide HIV prevention in all health care settings and comprehensive sex education in schools.

4. Ensure that Black women and girls have access to research   

  • Increase funding and support for research to increase general knowledge of “gender specific” risks and then incorporate these findings into prevention messages that speak directly to Black women and girls in the U.S.
  • Increase funding for research, and community education and awareness of self determined prevention methods such as microbicides
  • Increase funding and research into the appropriate role and engagement of faith based organizations.
  • Increase funding for research to develop effective behavioral and biomedical interventions with a particular focus on Black women and girls.
  • Increase funding and support for programs that focus on cultural competency, community-based outreach, and access to care specifically geared towards Black women and girls.