December 1, 2022
World AIDS DAY
World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1. The day is a chance to show support for individuals living with HIV and AIDS and remember the millions of people who have died from AIDS-related illness. This year’s theme is Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV. It is focused on coming together to erase the inequities that make it harder for people to get the testing and access to HIV care they need. Many advances in medicine have allowed HIV and AIDS to be much more manageable. However, these diseases continue to be a major public health issue around the world.
World AIDS Day and FDA
FDA joins many other government organizations in the fight against HIV and AIDS. FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) performs work in support of HIV prevention and treatment. CDER evaluates the benefits and risks of HIV medications and approves them for use. This leads to safe and effective HIV medications made available for those who need them. Thanks to HIV medications, a person living with HIV today can now have a longer life expectancy. However, there is still more work to be done.
Women and HIV
Every year, thousands of women are infected with HIV. The virus can infect women of all ages, races, and ethnicities. HIV also increases the risk and severity of other serious diseases and health conditions such as heart disease, cervical cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, and vaginal infections. HIV can also make it more difficult for a woman to become pregnant and can cause menopausal symptoms to start earlier than normal.
Here are steps women can take toward HIV prevention and treatment.
Reduce your risk of getting HIV:
- When having sex, protect yourself by using condoms. Most women get HIV from having unprotected sex with a man.
- If you inject drugs, use needles or syringes that are new and sterile. Make sure to avoid sharing them with others.
- Protect yourself against exposure to HIV. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) lowers the risk of HIV infection from sex by about 99%. PrEP reduces the risk among people who inject drugs by 74%.
Get tested for HIV. You can get tested at many places, including your healthcare provider’s office, a local health clinic, or at a pharmacy. Self-testing is also an option for anyone who wants to take their HIV test privately and receive their results at home. Options for testing include a blood or urine test, or even a mouth swab.
Take extra steps for protection. As a woman living with HIV, it’s best to avoid breastfeeding. The virus can be passed to a baby through breast milk. Also, if you are on birth control and are HIV-positive, your HIV medication may affect how well your birth control works. Speak with your doctor or healthcare provider about which HIV medications are right for you.
When You or Someone You Love Has HIV
Living with HIV comes with different challenges. These challenges can be overwhelming and make a person feel discouraged. You or your loved one can approach HIV one day at a time using manageable steps:
- Listen to your loved one. Offer your support by letting them know they are more than their diagnosis.
- Educate yourself on HIV. Learn how a person can get the virus and how people living with HIV can live a healthy life.
- Encourage your loved one to take their HIV medication regularly. Doing so helps keep HIV levels low in the body.
- Seek out resources for questions, concerns, or even support. Know that resources for mental health are available for you and your loved one living with HIV.
Learn more about supporting someone living with HIV here.
This World AIDS Day, we encourage everyone to educate themselves and others about preventing HIV and supporting those living with HIV and AIDS.
Check out these resources from our office and federal partners:
- Women and HIV
- HIV.gov: Testing
- CDC: Get Tested
- CDC: World AIDS Day
- CDC: Resources for Persons Living With HIV
- HHS Office on Women’s Health: Women and HIV
- HHS Office of Women’s Health: HIV and Women’s Health
- NICHD: HIV/AIDS
- NIH: HIV and Women
For resources and materials on other women's health topics, visit www.fda.gov/womens.