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Campaign Delivers “Get Tested” Message at Events Reaching Women of Color

Many people think of HIV/AIDS as a men's disease. However, this is not the case. The proportion of HIV/AIDS diagnoses among women has significantly increased during the past 15 years. Women represented 26 percent of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 2006.

African American women are particularly affected by HIV/AIDS. In 2006, African American women represented 65 percent of HIV/AIDS cases among women, even though they made up only 13 percent of the female population.

To highlight the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on women of color and promote HIV testing as an important step to curbing the epidemic, the National HIV Testing Mobilization Campaign participated in the launch of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network's (WEEN) Don't Judge Me … Empower Me national tour in New York City June 28, 2008.

Led by members of the film, music, and entertainment industries, WEEN is a coalition of women dedicated to promoting a balanced, positive portrayal of women in entertainment and society. An offshoot of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, the organization is particularly concerned about the positive portrayal of women of color in the media. The event brought together more than 3,000 women of all ages.

The Campaign hosted an information booth at the event to raise awareness of the importance of HIV testing. In addition, the Campaign collaborated with LIFEBeat—the Music Industry Fights AIDS, an HIV/AIDS prevention organization, to provide HIV testing onsite during the event. Approximately 75 individuals were tested for HIV.

The Campaign has participated in numerous other conferences and events targeting African American women as well. In June, Campaign representatives brought the "Get Tested for HIV" message to the 2008 Sisterhood Outreach Summit and Showcase, the largest conference for women of color in the Mid-South. At the event, Beverly Watts Davis, Senior Advisor on Substance Abuse, Office of the Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, spoke about the importance connection between substance abuse and HIV/AIDS. She also encouraged the audience to take advantage of onsite testing.

In July, the Campaign distributed HIV testing information at the 36th National Assembly of The Links, Inc., one of the oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of African American women. Timothy P. Harrison, Program Specialist, Office of HIV/AIDS Policy, spoke about the impact of HIV/AIDS on African American women and the importance of HIV testing as a tool to stop the spread of this deadly disease. The Links, Inc. asserts it will assume a leadership role in the fight against HIV/AIDS and appears to be marshalling its network to make a difference.