National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a time to share knowledge and shed light on the often-overlooked impact of the disease on women and families in our communities.
The official commemoration was March 10, but events happen all month.
Often buried within the data on the general AIDS population or lumped together with Black men, the statistics on Black women are startling. Perceptions of “I’m not at risk” continue to fuel HIV transmissions.
In 2010, women and girls made up two-thirds of those who were infected with the disease by having heterosexual sex.
African American women and girls continue to be disproportionately affected. Their rate was 20 times higher than that of white women. When HIV was first acknowledged, infections and AIDS were diagnosed for relatively few women and female adolescents.
But worldwide today, women are more likely to become infected with HIV than men, conflicting with long-held perceptions that HIV/AIDS is a man’s disease.
Oakland’s observance of the day featured Terralyn Mosby, 24, who spoke on the steps of City Hall She is the daughter of Roosevelt Mosby, a well known community activist, and Paulette Hogan, a HIV positive AIDS activist, who took her own life three years ago.
At the age of 12, Mosby and her older brother learned that their mother had contracted HIV.
The children took the news hard but soon became educated and informed.
Mosby says her mother was her hero, inspiring the young woman to overcome all the challenges she faced, like depression that was enhanced by a feeling of rejection. She eventually became a HIV/AIDS spokeswoman and advocate.
In her talks, Mosby tells of how it took her several years to finally accept her mother’s death was actually a suicide, as well as the pressure she receives not to talk about the tragedies in her life.
“So many people want me to keep it a secret,” she said. “In the spirit of my mother, I won’t. I know our story can be a help to someone else.”
When she learned her mother had killed herself, Mosby recalls that she screamed and cried for nights, asking, “How could she leave me, how could she do this?”
“I became angry and ran away from the church and everything that reminded me of her,” Mosby said. “I blamed so many people and organizations for how they treated her some time. I felt that her heart loved so many and so much, but people still treated her badly, judging her on her past mental breakdown”.
With the support of her father and her brother Quincy, now 26, she says she is ready to take over where her mother left off. “I know I come from greatness,” she said.
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