Dallas County has the second highest rate of People Living with HIV/AIDS (PWA) and is number one with the highest HIV case rate (581.9) in Texas. Women represent nearly one-third of people living with HIV/AIDS in Dallas County and 68%of those women are black. Black women are about one-fourth of the population of Dallas and one of every 164 Black women in Dallas are living with HIV/AIDS. Black women living with HIV/AIDS in Dallas will test later and are 21% more likely to die from an AIDS related illness than their white counterparts. Housing, like in most major metropolitan cities, is a challenge for poor people but for PWAs it is a greater challenge. Women living with HIV/AIDS and their children are at the greatest risk for being homeless or living in substandard housing and in environmentally unsafe communities. While nothing shared so far in this story is new and it has all been said in one form or another; however what is different is that women are know longer going to sit by and be ignored. If this data is indicative of the state of AIDS in Dallas for women then why are people sitting by complacently and not demanding that women be prioritized? Funding cuts and priority shifts have made it almost impossible to meet the comprehensive healthcare needs of women that include HIV. This article is part of a series that will be written on the state of AIDS in Dallas. Moving beyond 30 years of HIV and women’s need continue to be underserved I thought it very fitting to begin with women.
A National Response
A national voice has been raised and women collectively have decided to take the matters of women into their hands and demand that they become a priority. Earlier this year a group of women formed a campaign to address the systemic inadequacies in policies that are failing women. The 30 for 30 Campaign is a response to the HIV and AIDS crisis among women working to ensure that the needs of women living with and affected by HIV are met. According to the campaign women represent nearly 30% of people living with HIV/AIDS, but are not 30% representative of programs, policy, nor funding. The 30 for 30 Campaign was created to effectively secure the proportional distribution of HIV and AIDS resources for women and an appropriate response to women’s needs with regard to HIV prevention and comprehensive health care, including HIV and AIDS care. The 30 for 30 Campaign is a national voice for all women and it provides a vehicle by which women can respond to historical unfair representation. Women leaders in Dallas have also responded to the call to prioritize women living with HIV/AIDS and those at a greater risk for becoming infected.
Texas HIV & Black Women’s Initiative- Dallas
The Texas Regional HIV/AIDS and Black Women initiative was formed on last year to strengthen the ability of state and local health departments and their community partners to effectively administer and implement HIV/AIDS programs for Black Women. From that original meeting eight regional teams were formed with Dallas representing a region. The Dallas team is composed of diverse partners with various backgrounds and experiences but with one specific goal. The goal is to decrease new HIV, improve health outcomes, and services for women in Dallas. To effectively identify current trends among women living with HIV/AIDS and those at risk the team is collecting data via surveys and focus groups. The data collected will provide the team with pertinent information needed to successfully address the needs of women living in Dallas. You can access the survey and participate in the efforts by going to the following link and completing it www.surveymonkey.com/s/dallas/BWHIsurvey. The state of AIDS for Women in Dallas is a snapshot of the State of AIDS in Dallas. Funding cuts and re-prioritizing of services and programs is a temporary fix and detrimental to the entire community. To effectively decrease new infections in Dallas among all people will take equal representation and quality, affordable, accessible programs, services, and funding for everyone.