For more information contact:
Vanessa Johnson, JD
Executive Vice President
(240) 247-1016 (Phone)
(301) 768-2852 (Cell)
NAPWA\'s Observance of 
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (March 10, 2009)
Know Your Status. Get Tested. HIV is Right Here at Home!
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is March 10, 2009. As stated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women\'s Health, "The purpose of this annual day is to raise awareness of the increasing impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls and encourage women and girls to take action."  This year\'s theme, Know Your Status. Get Tested. HIV is Right Here at Home! is a message that resonates with the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA).
HIV/AIDS is having an ever increasing impact on women. The number of HIV/AIDS cases has steadily increased among women, growing from 8% at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic to 26% presently. In addition, a recent HIV Surveillance Report (2008) released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates a 14% increase in annual HIV/AIDS diagnoses among females from 2004-2007. AIDS is the number one cause of death for African American women ages 24 – 36 years old. NAPWA believes that women living with HIV/AIDS can play an important role in turning this situation around.
People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH/A), particularly women living with HIV/AIDS, represent perhaps the most under-utilized resource in the fight against HIV.  Women living with HIV/AIDS can play a critical role in promoting HIV prevention, access to difficult to reach populations, and helping to connect and retain women living with HIV/AIDS to essential healthcare and treatment. Moreover, as members of the communities most heavily affected by HIV/AIDS, women living with HIV/AIDS have an intimate understanding of the diverse needs of women and of the factors that can interfere with accessing HIV-related services, including HIV voluntary counseling and testing services, treatment, and care.
As stated by Michelle Lopez, Vice Chairperson of NAPWA\'s Board of Trustees, "Women living with HIV/AIDS must inform the dialogue, discussion and discourse regarding all aspects of our lives.  The involvement of women living with HIV/AIDS not only promotes an awareness of and commitment to addressing HIV/AIDS, but also educates the community and decision-makers about interlinked issues which may increase a woman\'s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS." To meet this challenge, NAPWA proposes to build on its unparalleled background and expertise in leadership development, community mobilization and its extensive experience providing technical assistance to support women living with HIV/AIDS and the community-based organizations that serve them.
Developing Women Living with HIV/AIDS as Community Champions
Leadership and Advocacy Development: Common Threads
NAPWA understands that we all have rich, dynamic and powerful personal stories. As stated by Judith Billings, Former NAPWA Board Chairperson and current Board Trustee, "Our stories can break down barriers, change beliefs and alter attitudes about people living with HIV/AIDS. NAPWA\'s Common Threads program, which helps put a human face on the HIV epidemic, is built upon this understanding." Common Threads is a small-group participatory training session designed to help women of African descent living with HIV/AIDS. With the support of the Office on Women\'s Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NAPWA has trained over 40 women in 5 different localities across the United States. NAPWA will expand Common Threads in an effort to support HIV-positive women in telling their stories as a powerful way to dispel commonly held myths and misunderstandings about the realities of living with HIV/AIDS and coping with the accompanying stigma and prejudices. "In order to achieve success with efforts to encourage women to know their HIV status, it is necessary for women living with HIV/AIDS to share their personal stories to dispel myths and misunderstanding," says Vanessa Johnson, NAPWA\'s Executive Vice President.
Developing Organizations that Serve Women as Community Champions
Capacity Building Assistance
NAPWA also understands the important role that community-based organizations (CBO) or AIDS service organizations (ASO) play in the lives of women living with HIV/AIDS. NAPWA\'s capacity building assistance programs are designed to encourage CBOs/ASOs to form stronger partnerships with women and utilize their considerable talents and experiences to reach other women at-risk for and/or living with HIV/AIDS.
The National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) was founded 26 years ago as the first network of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH/A) and is the oldest national AIDS organization in the United States and the world. For more information about NAPWA, please visit www.napwa.org.

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