News release: ‘We are Empowered Tea’ draws attention to impact of HIV/AIDS on women

News Release
March 27, 2014

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‘We are Empowered Tea’ draws attention to impact of HIV/AIDS on women

April 4 event slated in observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

In observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD), organizers from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will host a community event, “We are Empowered Tea,” to raise awareness about the impact HIV/AIDS has had on women in Minnesota. The free event, open to the public, will take place from 12 to 2 p.m., Friday, April 4 at Westminster Church, 1200 Marquette Ave., Minneapolis.

“Every 35 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in this country,” said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health.  “Women of color, particularly Black women, have been especially hard hit and represent the majority of women living with the disease and women newly infected due to their social and medical disadvantages.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black women accounted for nearly two thirds (64 percent) of all estimated new HIV infections and 60 percent of those women living with HIV through 2010. Latinas accounted for 15 percent of the new HIV infections and 18 percent of those women living with HIV.

In Minnesota, through 2012, 1,789 HIV cases have now been reported among women and an estimated 1,745 are currently living with HIV. Black women accounted for 61 percent of those living with HIV. White women represented 25 percent, Latinas 6 percent, American Indians 3 percent, Asians 2 percent and other 2 percent among those living with HIV in the state.

“It’s important that we make HIV prevention programming and HIV testing opportunities as economically and culturally accessible as possible,” said Ehlinger. “The NWGHAAD observance and the ‘We are Empowered Tea’ event will provide women and girls opportunities to get tested and educate themselves about HIV/AIDS.”

The Tea event will feature presentations and testimonials from some of the top local HIV/AIDS experts in Minnesota. Speakers include: Dr. Omobosola Akinsete, Health Partners Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease; Gwendolyn Velez, African American AIDS Task Force; Sheila Mills, Bridge Builders for Life; and Jean Willis, RN, BS, Executive Community Liaison Specialist, Gilead Sciences.

Health officials noted that the most effective means of stopping the spread is to know your HIV status, avoid or delay sexual activity, decrease the number of sexual partners, always use latex condoms during sex, avoid sharing of needles or equipment to tattoo, body pierce or inject drugs, and get into and stay in care if infected.

It is particularly important for pregnant women to get an HIV test to help prevent transmitting HIV to their babies.

To help curb the epidemic in Minnesota, the STD and HIV Section at MDH currently funds 21 community-based programs and the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health funds 6 additional programs for HIV prevention and/or testing work.

The state’s HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report-2012, which includes data specific for women, can be found on the MDH HIV/AIDS Surveillance website.

For more information on National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2014, visit the MDH National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day website or visit the U.S. Office of Women’s Health website.

Information about HIV is also available from the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) AIDSLine, 612-373-2437 (Twin Cities Metro), 1-800-248-2437 (Statewide), 1-888-820-2437 (Statewide TTY), or by email at: MAP AIDSLine offers statewide information and referral services, including prevention education, HIV risk assessments, HIV testing and referrals to HIV testing sites, as well as community resources and prevention programs that serve women.


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Community Event - Open to the Public

“We are Empowered Tea” National Women & Girls HIV Awareness Day Event
12 – 2 p.m., Friday, April 4, 2014 at Westminster Church, 1200 Marquette Ave., Minneapolis. For more information, contact Sandy Johnson, MDH, 651-201-4019, or by email at:


Media inquiries:
Doug Schultz
MDH Communications