HIV/AIDS has been infecting and affecting people since 1981 and continues to do so to this day. In response, women are stepping up to change the course of the epidemic.
World Aids Day is the ideal time to highlight remarkable women who are advocating and raising awareness on HIV/AIDS.
1. Matshediso (Tshedi) Sibande
Tshedi Sibande is on a mission to fight the stigma and discrimination surrounding people with HIV/AIDS through education. She is the monitoring and evaluation lead of DREAMS’ Thina Abantu Abasha Program (“Nothing for Us, Without Us”) — a youth-led program with the mission to reduce HIV infections among young women in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
She educates adolescent girls and young women about sexual and reproductive health. Aside from providing health education, Tshedi empowers them with leadership and employability skills, hoping they will learn how to stand their ground in relationships.
Sibande is hopeful that this generation of young women will know how to appreciate themselves and make better decisions so that they are less vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.
2. Dr. Macaya Douoguih
Technological advancements that help promote proactive health care and cure infectious diseases play a crucial role as women take the lead in addressing AIDS awareness. Dr. Macaya Douoguih, head of clinical development and medical affairs at Janssen Vaccines, is at the forefront of developing an investigational HIV vaccine regimen. Even during COVID-19, she and her team willingly worked on the HIV vaccine, continuously coming up with solutions to build the world’s first global inoculation as safely as possible.
According to FiercePharma, Douoguih’s fight against AIDS began at a young age. She visited a family in a rural area where people suffer from HIV, tuberculosis and smallpox. She realized the harm infectious diseases can cause a community and decided to become a doctor.
Her notable contributions to the medical industry earned her a spot in 2021’s Fiercest Women in Life Sciences.
3. Alicia Keys
American singer Alicia Keys consistently shows her passion for ending AIDS. In a video uploaded by Greater Than HIV, she shared she knew about the virus in 2001. However, it was only when she was 21 years old and visited South Africa that she realized the global impact of the AIDS epidemic.
Meeting young girls who were forced into the sex trade to survive inspired her to lift affected women. Knowing that survivors had to experience long-lasting aftereffects of sexual assault and the negative implications of AIDS, Keys decided to fight with women who are HIV positive and confront the stigma surrounding it.
She’s the global ambassador and co-founder of Keep a Child Alive (KCA), a nonprofit organization providing health care and support services to HIV/AIDS-affected groups in India and some countries in Africa. KCA’s mission is to end AIDS for children and families “by combating the physical, social and economic impacts of HIV.”
According to KFF, around 280,000 people with HIV in the U.S. are women. In her fight against AIDS, Keys collaborated with Greater Than AIDS to develop EMPOWERED, a public information campaign aiming to target women in the U.S. about AIDS awareness.
4. Barbara Lee
Congresswoman Barbara Lee has written and co-written every HIV/AIDS legislation in the U.S. and the world while educating members of Congress about the virus and its implications for the community. She co-founded and co-chairs the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus and aims to achieve an AIDS-free generation.
On June 9, 2023, Lee and her co-chair, Jenniffer González-Colón, launched the National U=U Task Force, a campaign with a mission to promote modern HIV prevention. She thanked people who supported their cause to end the HIV epidemic by 2030.
Fight Alongside These Women Today
These four women aren’t just big names — they’re turning the tide against a virus that has taken countless lives. During World Aids Day, help amplify the voices of these brave women and share their advocacies with your friends and family.