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In the US at the end of 2011, 24% of all people living with HIV were women (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/gender/women/). Only 45% were engaged in care, and only 32% had achieved virologic suppression. The disease in the US occurs disproportionately among women of color. In 2010, Black women accounted for nearly two thirds (64%) of all estimated new HIV infections among women, while only accounting for 13% of the female population; white women accounted for 18% and Latinas 15% of new infections. Infection most commonly occurred through heterosexual sex (84%) and less frequently through intravenous drug use (16%). In 2010, HIV was the 7th leading cause of death for Black women ages 25-44, but did not rank among the top 10 leading causes of death for white women 25-44 (http://kff.org/hivaids/fact-sheet/women-and-hivaids-in-the-united-states/).
Approximately 17.4 million women were living with HIV infection in the world in 2014, and they represent 50% of the epidemic worldwide (http://www.who.int/hiv/data/). In sub-Saharan Africa in 2013, 59% of people living with HIV were women. Heterosexual sex is the dominant mode of HIV acquisition in women globally. For women aged 15-44 years, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death worldwide (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs334/en/).
The primary mission of the WHISC is to develop optimal strategies for the prevention and treatment of HIV disease and related complications among women and to determine the pathogenesis of manifestations that are unique to women. The WHISC serves as liaison with other groups conducting research relevant to HIV-infected women and serves as an advisory committee in addressing issues such as reproductive decisions and contraception in clinical trials. There is broad representation on the WHISC from other pertinent committees and groups, which allows the WHISC to anticipate future research challenges through the rapid dissemination of new data from the various research groups.
The WHISC sees a woman's life as a continuum (childhood, adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy, and menopause) and care during her life should not be fragmented. The WHISC believes that HIV-infected women should have their health care needs managed comprehensively throughout the continuum of life. The WHISC therefore will work closely with other Networks/organizations to help achieve this goal.
General aims or goals of the WHISC are as follows: