North Carolina project addressing HIV in Black and Latina women receives $250,000 grant
North Carolina ranks 11th among all states in the country for the highest rate of new HIV diagnoses, according to the CDC. In 2020, women accounted for 17% of those new diagnoses — and Black and Latina women had the highest rates.
This is why Gilead Sciences, a biotech company, recently announced a $250,000 grant to support the North Carolina AIDS Action Network’s upcoming initiative, the Ella/Her Project until June 2023.
The Ella/Her Project will focus on increasing education, raising awareness and training providers about HIV in Black and Latina women across the state.
“Black and brown women have been left out of the conversation about HIV and have not been sort of at the top of the list in terms of prevention efforts,” said NC AIDS Action Network's interim executive director, Janeen Gingrich. “We started looking at the numbers and got together as a collective and approached Gilead about helping us figure out a way to target black and brown cis women in a way that's really meaningful.”
The project is a collaborative effort between the NC AIDS Action Network, the Southern AIDS Coalition and the Latino Commission on AIDS, Latinos in the South program.
According to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services, the rate of new HIV diagnoses for Black women in 2020 was 11.2 out of 100,000 people. The rate was 4.1 for Latina women and 1.3 for white women.
Mecklenburg County ranks second in the state for average new HIV diagnoses from 2018 to 2020 after Washington County on t he coast.
Christina Adeleke, policy and communications manager at NC AIDS Action Network , says the group is in the beginning stages of the Ella/Her program and is planning focus groups with Black and Latina women to determine the course of the project.
“There are a lot of unique ways that HIV impacts women, and so we're wanting to be able to gather feedback from the women to be able to determine based on what we've heard, ‘You know, we think that we need a program that does this, or does that,’ and be able to implement those programs long term,” Adeleke said. “That's the long - term goal. But I think at this point, we have to figure out what the gaps are.”
Judith Montenegro, the Latinos in the South program director, highlighted the importance of training providers when it comes to addressing disparities in HIV prevention for Black and Latina women.
“Providers also have a responsibility to women and to provide the services and be informed of what sort of prevention efforts exist for women a nd not to be left out of conversations that providers may only be having with certain other communities,” Montenegro said . “We want to make sure that women have the treatment options available to them always.”
Montenegro emphasized that the Ella/Her project will be geared toward and inclusive of both cisgender and transgender Black and Latina women.
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