5 Reasons Women Should Take Charge Of Their Sexual Health

serious black womanDespite recent reports that new HIV infections are declining among Black/African American women, black women remain heavily impacted by HIV.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at some point in her lifetime, one in 32 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV compared to one in 106 Latinas, and one in 526 white women.

While Black women don’t necessarily engage in riskier behaviors than women of other ethnicities, a range of complex factors places them at greater risk for HIV.  Generally, Black women may be at increased risk for HIV because, proportionately, there are more people living with HIV in the Black community, increasing the chance of exposure with every sexual encounter.  Higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, not knowing your (or your partner’s) HIV status, stigma, fear, discrimination, negative perceptions about HIV testing, and socioeconomic issues associated with poverty, e.g., limited access to healthcare, housing, and HIV prevention education, are also contributing factors.

Many people know that HIV is a significant health risk.  However, research suggests that many women continue to underestimate their own personal risk of getting HIV, even when they are taking part in relatively high-risk behaviors.  Underestimating your risk for HIV can keep you from getting tested for HIV.  It can also prevent you from choosing behaviors that can help keep you from getting HIV.

Think you don’t need to worry about getting tested for HIV? Think again. In support of National HIV Testing Day (June 27th), an annual observance to promote HIV testing, consider these 5 reasons to get tested for HIV:

1. You are having sex.

If you’ve had sex without a condom or other protection, you may be at risk for HIV. The fact is, whether you’ve had one partner or several, sex is still the #1 way that women get HIV. There are many ways you can reduce your risk of HIV: