December 1 is World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day, recognized each year on December 1, draws global attention to the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) epidemic

World AIDS Day was created by two members of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the then Director of the Global Programme on AIDS now known as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in 1987.  UNAIDS became operational in 1996, and took over the planning and promotion of World AIDS Day; instead of focusing on a single day, UNAIDS created the World AIDS Campaign in 1997 to focus on year-round communications, prevention and education.

Now almost three decades since the first World AIDS day, HIV/AIDS awareness has made notable strides. In 2009, the HIV travel and immigration ban was lifted in the U.S. by President Obama. The travel ban was instated as part of the National Institute of Health’s reauthorization act (entitled the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993) and prohibited individuals HIV positive or with AIDS from entering the country (Speicher, 2008). This year the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy was implemented by the President, and the World AIDS Campaign’s efforts to educate the HIV positive community came to light with a resurgence of people on AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting lists. In July, the XVIII International AIDS Conference generated important milestones in the latest AIDS research, such as the development of a potentially effective microbicide tenofovir, a gel used intravaginally both before and after intercourse to reduce the incidence of HIV infection among women (Priddy & del Rio, 2010).

Speicher, Sara. (2008). World AIDS Day Marks 20th Anniversary Of Solidarity. Medical News Today.

del Rio, C., & Priddy, F. (2010). Finally, an effect microbicide against HIV and, possibly, herpes simplex virus 2: Results from CAPRISA 004. Journal Watch HIV/AIDS Clinical Care.

The Psych-E staff regrets that this month’s issue was not available on World AIDS Day. Please visit the Office on AIDS webpage to learn more about what APA’s information, training and technical assistance on a wide range of HIV/AIDS-related topics.

Women and AIDS

HIV and AIDS were originally thought to affect mostly gay men, however the number of women contracting HIV has steadily increased since the epidemic began. If new HIV infection rates continue at their current rate worldwide, women with HIV may soon outnumber men with HIV. For instance, women presented 8 percent of AIDS diagnoses in 1985, 20 percent in 1995 and 27 percent in 2000 (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010). Women of color — particularly African American women represent the majority of new HIV infections and AIDS cases among women, and the majority of women living with the disease. Of the estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., nearly 280,000 are women.

Additionally, because women are more biologically susceptible to HIV infection during sex and experience different clinical symptoms and complications, efforts to stem the tide of the United States HIV/AIDS epidemic will depend on how its effect on women and girls is addressed. (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010). In 2007, more than a quarter of diagnoses of HIV infection were among women and girls aged 13 years and older. In that same year, the rate of HIV/AIDS diagnoses for black females was nearly 20 times as high as the rate for white females and nearly 4 times as high as the rate for Hispanic/Latino females (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is celebrated annually on March 10.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (September, 2009). Women and HIV/AIDS in the United States. HIV/AIDS Policy Fact Sheet.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (March, 2010). National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2010.

Related reading

(A) Structural Ecosystems Therapy (SET) has been shown to promote adaptation to living with HIV by reducing psychological distress and family hassles. The study examines the effect of SET on HIV medication adherence relative to a person-centered condition and a community control condition, and finds that family hassles were significantly reduced by SET.

Feaster, D. J., Brincks, A. M., Mitrani, V. B., Prado, G., Schwartz, S. J., & Szapocznik, J. (2010). The efficacy of structural ecosystems therapy for HIV medication adherence with African American women. Journal of Family Psychology, 24. doi: 10.1037/a0017954.

(B) Study findings have implications for designing and implementing interventions to increase social support and decrease HIV-related stigma in order to decrease depression among African American women with HIV disease. HIV-related perceived stigma and internalized stigma were found to mediate the effect of sources of available support on depression.

Vyavahkar, M., Moneyham, L., Corwin, S., Saunders, R., Annang, L., & Tavakoli, A. (2010). Relationships between stigma, social support, and depression in HIV-infected African American women living in the rural southeastern United States. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 21, 144-152.