Once again, 9 March commemorates the National Day of Women Living with HIV Australia. Initiated by the National Network of Women Living with HIV — otherwise known as the Femfatales — the day of awareness was conceived due to concerns that Australian women are too often unaware about the risks and realities of HIV. “We wanted to start conversations so that all women have an opportunity to increase their knowledge and awareness about HIV,” said Femfatales chair, Kath Leane.
There are currently around 3,000 women living with HIV in Australia. While this relatively low number is something to be celebrated, as a result, HIV-positive women are not considered a priority population. “Too often, positive women are considered as an afterthought,” said Keane. “When not well supported, women will often go underground after diagnosis and hide in fear and shame of being labelled and judged.”
It is hoped that the annual awareness day will help raise the profile of women living with HIV, reduce stigma and — importantly — encourage women to test. “The more women test for HIV, the more we will be able to diagnose and treat women appropriately,” said Leane. “This is the aim of this special day.”