Baltimore, MD (March 4, 2011) - The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's (DHMH) Infectious Disease and Environmental Health Administration (IDEHA) will kick off the annual observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day March 10th at a Baltimore conference this Saturday, March 5. The conference represents the second annual partnership between DHMH, Sisters Together and Reaching, (S.T.A.R.), Baltimore City Public School System, Maryland State Department of Education, Head Start, LIGHT Health and Wellness, and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
"The proportion of new HIV diagnoses among women in Maryland has more than doubled from 15% in 1985 to 35.3% in 2008," said Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D., Secretary of DHMH. "It is critical to advance strategies that help all women -- young and old -- to protect themselves."
According to preliminary data, by the end of 2009, nearly 30,000 (29,035) people in Maryland were living with HIV/AIDS; of those 36 percent were women. The majority of women living with HIV/AIDS were between the ages of 30 and 49. Of newly diagnosed HIV positive females over the age of 13 during 2008 in Maryland, the most common exposure categories were heterosexual exposure (76.6%) and injection drug use (23.4%).
"We are working collaboratively with community based organizations and local health departments to ensure that the women have accurate information when making decisions and are aware of their HIV status," said Heather Hauck, Director of IDEHA."
DHMH encourages residents to take action in the fight against HIV, raise awareness of its impact on women and girls, and participate in HIV community events on National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. All Marylanders should talk openly to friends and loved ones about the impact of HIV on our communities, get tested for HIV, and if they are living with HIV, get treatment.
This free conference targets public school students and their parents. The conference attendees will attend workshops and activities focused on body image, sexual health, HIV/STDS, relationships, communications, and much more. The conference on March 5, 2011 will be held from 8:30 am until 3:00 pm at the Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel, 101 W. Fayette Street in downtown Baltimore.
To read the latest Maryland HIV/AIDS data report, visit http://dhmh.state.md.us/AIDS/Data&Statistics/MarylandHIVEpiProfile12-2009.pdf
For information about HIV education, testing, treatment, support services and local National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day activities, please call (410)-767-5132 or visit http://eh.dhmh.md.gov/ideah/ To see national activities, visit http://www.womenshealth.gov/nwghaad/index.cfm