National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is March 10

State Health Department Encourages Action to Protect Against HIV/AIDS

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 8, 2013) - In recognition of the eighth annual observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10, 2013, State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., encourages women and teenage girls in New York to learn about the risks of HIV/AIDS and take action to protect their health, including getting tested for HIV.

"Raising public awareness of HIV is critical to ensuring that people take action to protect themselves against the disease," Commissioner Shah said. "This annual observance is a stark reminder that women are at risk of contracting HIV and should learn about prevention, testing and treatment."

Approximately 280,000 women in the United States are living with HIV/AIDS, including 38,840 women in New York – more than any other state. Women of color make up approximately 90 percent of New York women living with HIV/AIDS. Overall, most women were between the ages of 30 and 49 when diagnosed, and the most significant factor associated with transmission was heterosexual contact.

Due to delays in seeking testing, many individuals are diagnosed so late in the course of their HIV disease that they have already developed full blown AIDS. Individuals receiving an AIDS diagnosis concurrently or within 12 months of their initial positive HIV test result have what is referred to as "late diagnoses." and about 30 percent of newly diagnosed women in New York fit into this category.

"The earlier an HIV infection is diagnosed, the better the prospects are for maintaining an individual in good health and for preventing further transmission," said Humberto Cruz, director of the Department of Health's AIDS Institute. "I strongly encourage New Yorkers to discuss the issue of HIV and encourage people to get tested and practice safe sex."

Women should be tested for HIV if they have:

  • had unprotected sex with someone whose status is unknown;
  • been diagnosed with, or treated for hepatitis, tuberculosis, or a sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis;
  • had unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with multiple partners, anonymous partners or men who have sex with men;
  • injected drugs or steroids or shared equipment (such as needles, syringes, and works); or
  • exchanged sex for drugs or money.

To schedule a free rapid HIV test call the toll-free confidential New York State DOH AIDS Hotline at 1-800-541-AIDS. Additional information about the Department of Health's anonymous HIV counseling and testing program is available at