Elizabeth Glaser, Dolzura Cortez, Marvelyn Brown, Rebekka Armstrong, Kimberly Bergalis, Criselda Kananda, Lesego Motsepe, Musa ‘Queen’ Njoko (Gospel Artist), and Amanda Blake. What do these individuals have in common? They have a few things in common. First, these individuals are all top celebrity females. Second, these individuals are all women. Third, these women contracted HIV. March 10, 2017 was National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Elizabeth Glaser contracted the virus via a HIV contaminated blood transfusion and died in 1985 from complications of AIDS, she was married to actor/director Paul Michael Glaser. Dolzura Cortez was the first Filipino who came out that she had AIDS; a movie in 1993 was made about her. Maryelyn Brown travels around the world speaking about being heterosexual and living with HIV. Rebekka Armstrong, former bodybuilder and model in 1994, was the first Playmate to announce being HIV positive. Kimberly Bergalis was infected by Dr. David J. Acer, a dentist who had AIDS, the first clinical transmission of the disease. Criselda Kananda is a Radio DJ who was diagnosed with HIV when she was 7 months pregnant; she serves on the South African National Council. Lesego Motsepe played Lettie Matabane in Isidingo. Musa ‘ Quee’ Njoko, a gospel artist, disclosed she was HIV positive in 1995. Amanda Black, actress of one of the greatest television shows of all time, Gunsmoke, contracted HIV from her 4th husband. The purpose of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness day is education and to bring awareness about this disease which, at times, women and girls have been overlooked in regards its impact on them.
Background – HIV/AIDS History
HIV is transmitted through blood to blood contact, vaginal fluids, semen, and breast milk.
HIV’s full name is Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV was founded in 1983 (Jouria, 2017).
The name of the virus tells you exactly what this virus does. It created a deficiency in the human immune system. By the body not being able to fight off diseases, colds, and viruses; the body becomes susceptible to infections more than normal. Once the body is infected and unable to recover, it becomes weaker and weaker and eventually stops functioning. The body becomes weaker because CD4 T cells are attacked by HIV and killed. A healthy body has over 500 CD4 T cell count. When a person’s CD4 T cell count drops to 200 or below and there is the presence of an opportunistic infection, the person is diagnosed with AIDS by a doctor. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
Women HIV/AIDS stats
There are many current statistics regarding HIV infection and AIDS diagnosis among all population. With last Friday being the National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the current stats are focused solely on women. Most women contract HIV through heterosexual sex. The CDC (2017) has a chart that showcases HIV diagnosis based on subgroups of women related to ethnicity and sexual behavior for 2015. In the 7 categories, the top three were Black Men who have sex with Men (10,315 new cases), white Men who have sex with men (7,570 new cases), and Hispanic/Latino Men who have sex with men (7,013). The fourth category, Black Heterosexual Women were 4, 142 new HIV cases with the fifth category being Black Heterosexual Men which were 1,926 cases. Hispanic/Latina Heterosexual women, sixth category, had 1,010 new cases. The seventh category, White Heterosexual Women had 968 new cases in 2015.
HIV/AIDS is a chronic disease. Chronic means long term. HIV/AIDS is a disease that a person will have for life. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS at this time. There are effective medications that can assist with living a healthy life that greatly reduces the chance of HIV developing into AIDS. The way that can happen, is to get tested early. This is the only way a person can know whether they have HIV or not. According to the CDC 11% of HIV positive women do not know that they have HIV. According to Poz.com (2017) “HIV-positive women are at a greater risk for gynecological problems, such as vaginal yeast infections, pelvic inflammatory disease and cervical problems.”
The Human Immunodeficiency virus know as HIV is a chronic disease that can develop into AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome if not treated. March 10th was National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The purpose of this day is to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS and specifically its impact on women. Black women are the highest subpopulation among women who contracted the virus through heterosexual sex. Ways to reduce the chances of contracting the virus are to use a latex condom, the right way every time; be monogamous with a HIV negative partner, or practice abstinence. HIV/AIDS is preventable and there is life after contact. Counseling and Psychotherapy services are available. All it takes is for you to reach out to a provider.
CDC. (2017) Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/gender/women/
Feedmaza. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.feedmaza.com/2016/09/25/female-celebrities-with-hiv-positive/
Nationaldaycalendar.com (2017). Retrieved from http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/national-women-and-girls-hivaids-awareness-day-march-10/
Poz.com (2017). Retrieved from https://www.poz.com/basics/hiv-basics/hiv-women