SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

Virginia Department of Health launches initiative to fight HIV/AIDS in women

The Virginia Department of Health recently launched a state-wide initiative to fight HIV/AIDS-positivity in women and girls with the help of singer Alicia Keys and Walgreens Co.

The Virginia Department of Health reported 6,600 women in the state are HIV positive. Last year, 48 percent of those cases progressed to AIDS.

"HIV and AIDS are taking a toll on the lives of women and their families," Interim State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine said. "The health of women is indicative of the health of our Commonwealth. One way to improve the lives of women, and therefore families, is to empower women with knowledge and support for healthy living."

The new three-part initiative to fight HIV/AIDS in women, called Virginia is Greater Than AIDS, launched yesterday with the Empowered campaign. The Empowered campaign features Alicia Keys speaking with five HIV-positive women from across the U.S. and seeks to help empower women through personal stories.

The second campaign, titled Deciding Moments, provides an online community for persons living with HIV/AIDS to share their personal stories and successes with one another.

The third campaign is titled I Got Tested and provides individuals with free testing resources to help fight HIV and its progression into AIDS. The campaign provides free online resources, telephone hotlines and HIV screenings through Walgreens on June 27, National HIV Testing Day.

"The trend that we are seeing-HIV disease progressing to AIDS-is preventable, just like this disease," Levine said. "For women who have HIV, early diagnosis and medical care can lead to improved health outcomes. This year, for National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, get tested and find out your status. Make sure that you can live a longer and healthier life for yourself and for your family and loved ones."