IMG_1106IMG_1058Monday was National Women and Girl’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and here at ASA, staff members came together to Rock the Red Pumps as part of a national social media awareness campaign started by the Red Pump Project.

ASA’s VOICES/VOCES coordinator LaToya Swan helped set up a fabulous photobooth here at ASA (and other places around town) in collaboration with I am My Sister’s Keeper (IAMSK)! And you better believe that we Rocked the Red Pumps!

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IMG_1064IAMSK was founded as part of the Texas Black Women’s Initiative (TXBWI) in 2010. The initiative (formed from a partnership with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors) hoped to address the disparity in HIV and AIDS cases among black women living in Texas.

“The event came about via an IAMSK discussion about participating in a campaign that would speak to the women/girls that are social media divas,” LaToya explains. The campaign encouraged women and men around the world to Rock the Red Pump, take pictures and share them on facebook and twitter with the hashtag #RocktheRedPumps.

IMG_1052“We wanted to participate in the campaign because it was a way to bring awareness that women/girls are being infected by this epidemic at an extremely high cost/rate but the only coverage is always gay men.”

In America, despite making up only 12% of the population, black men and especially women account for around 44% of all new HIV infections. As a whole, women and girls make up around 25% of the total population infected by HIV and AIDS.

IMG_1084HIV and AIDS also impact women differently than men. Most women with HIV do not get the care they need, and only around 40% of HIV-positive women are on treatment and have a low viral load. Women also face different risk factors, primarily tied to whether or not their partner is infected. Many women may be unaware of their partner’s status, or they may not feel that they can ask a long-term partner to wear a condom. Many of these problems can be even harder to overcome for minority women.

IMG_1097That’s why LaToya has been involved with IAMSK from the beginning. “There are no awareness campaigns that speak to our lifestyle. IAMSK continues to be a voice for women that are not disenfranchised, have health insurance, and are educated, self-sufficient, and at very high risk of HIV/AIDS.”

To IAMSK and LaToya, the online #RocktheRedPump campaign was the perfect way to promote HIV and AIDS Awareness while speaking to their demographic. “We decided to partner w/The Red Pump Project to reach high heel wearing, independent, and culturally educated black women/girls and find a way to catch their attention and join the movement and hopefully begin a trend here in Austin!”