HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases Continue to Rise among Women and Girls in New York City-especially Brooklyn
New York, NY-- On Wednesday, March 10, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, GMHC joined local women and girls, leadership of AIDS service organizations, elected officials, teachers, clergy and other supporters on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall to speak out in the fight to save lives. Speakers at the press conference included: Marjorie J. Hill, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of GMHC; Yvonne Graham, Deputy Borough President of Brooklyn; Council Member (and Chair of the City Council's Women's Committee) Julissa Ferreras; Comptroller John Liu; Shadasia Bishop and Shatara Johnson, Sister SAGE (Strengthening Advocacy for Girls' Empowerment); Reverend Cheryl Anthony, Judah International Christian Center and Women of Faith Advocating Change; Ruby Hodges, Griot Circle; Lourdes Hunter, Brooklyn Community Pride Center; Aida Leon, Amethyst Women's Project; Carol Logan, GMHC; Esther Lok, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies; and Jama Shelton, Ali Forney Center.
"It is staggering, but not surprising, that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States," said Marjorie J. Hill, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of GMHC. "These trends, particularly affecting black and Latino females, are mirrored right here in New York City, as a result of systematic and institutionalized racism, inequitable access to health care, and poverty. These structural forces drive up HIV and STD infections and create racial and gender disparities."
According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, one in three New Yorkers living with HIV is female, and the number of new HIV infections affecting the black and Hispanic female community is alarming. Approximately 90% of women living with HIV are black and Hispanic, and 94% of new HIV infections in teenage females are in blacks and Hispanics. The largest amount of female youth (ages 13 to 19) live with HIV resides in Brooklyn.
"As the rates continue to grow, the city needs to place a greater emphasis on HIV prevention, care and treatment services, as well as comprehensive sex education in schools," added Hill. "The city needs a 'Call to Action.'"
"We're Not Dolls! Don't Play with Women's Lives!" was the theme of the event. Participants brought toy dolls to the Brooklyn Borough Hall. Each doll represented 10 women and/or girls who are impacted by HIV/AIDS and other STDs. The dolls wore signs acknowledging the alarming statistics of the epidemic.
Co-sponsoring organizations included: AIDS Service Center NYC, Ali Forney Center, American Run for the End of AIDS, Brooklyn Community Pride Center, Care and Education Coalition, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Connect, Inc., Conscious Contact of New York, Inc., Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services, The HEAT Program, GRIOT Circle, Liberation in Truth Open Door Drop-in Center of New Jersey, LIFEbeat: Music Industry Fights AIDS, HIV Law Project-Center for Women & HIV Advocacy, The NYC Association of Homeless and Street-Involved Organizations, The NYC Faith in Action for HIV/AIDS Prevention, Pratt Area Community Council, Sister SAGE, Sadie Nash Leadership Project, The Women's HIV Collaborative of New York, and Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition
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