“All the Threads of the Tapestry are Equal in Value,” Dr. Maya Angelou

By Dr. Shanell L. McGoy, Director of HIV/STD, Tennessee Department of Health

Shanell McGoy

Dr. Shanell L. McGoy

Dr. Maya Angelou’s pen was silenced earlier this year; yet her bold, brilliant, and beautifully crafted words will live forever.  Her words speak of love – self-love and love for others, resilience, and the richness of diversity.  Dr. Maya Angelou wrote, “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value.”  The 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States are as richly diverse as the tapestry Dr. Angelou describes in her poignant quote.  HIV/AIDS knows no boundaries, no specific race or ethnicity, age, gender, sexual preference, education level, profession, income, or religion.  Though we know that there are well documented HIV-related disparities that exist across a variety of demographics, we can be proud of our collective progress to reduce these disparities. Continue reading

Share Knowledge and Take Action: National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

By Michelle Allen, Associate, Policy and Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day LogoToday, NASTAD joins in the observation of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) to recognize the impact of HIV on women and girls across the country. Since 2006, this day has been observed to raise awareness and encourage communities to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The facts are clear, of the 50,000 adults and adolescents newly diagnosed with HIV in 2011, one in five was female. Among women, women of color account for nearly two-thirds of new AIDS diagnoses, and at some point in their lifetimes, 1 in 32 Black women and 1 in 106 Latinas will be diagnosed with HIV. Most of these women, roughly 86%, were infected with HIV by having condomless, heterosexual sex. Educating women, across all communities is an important piece of preventing further spread of the epidemic, and that makes this year’s theme, “Share Knowledge. Take Action,” that much more important. Continue reading

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: Fighting HIV/AIDS through the Affordable Care Act

By Mildred Williamson, HIV/AIDS Section Chief, Illinois Department of Public Health and Amna Osman, Director, Division of Health, Wellness and Disease Control, Michigan Department of Community Health

Amna Osman, Director, Division of Health, Wellness and Disease Control, Michigan Department of Community Health

Amna Osman, Director, Division of Health, Wellness and Disease Control, Michigan Department of Community Health

Mildred Williamson, HIV/AIDS Section Chief, Illinois Department of Public Health

Mildred Williamson, HIV/AIDS Section Chief, Illinois Department of Public Health

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a day to “Share Knowledge. Take Action.” As public health officials leading the fight against HIV and health inequities in our states, we recognize that the path to ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S. must include women and girls. So, today is a day to educate women and girls and their communities about the impact of HIV and offer a clarion call for us to take charge of our health. HIV/AIDS remains a serious public health challenge for women and girls. In 2009, women made up approximately a quarter of individuals living with HIV in the U.S. Furthermore, in 2009, African-American and Latina women accounted nearly three-fourths of new HIV infections among all women in the U.S. For African-American women and girls, the HIV infection rate in 2010 was 20 times that of White women and girls. As the backbone of our communities, women should share their stories and empower our girls and others around us. As said by the great poet Maya Angelou “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Continue reading