March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day. On March 10, 1996, when I was five months into my new job as a social worker for women and children with HIV and AIDS at the Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center (CDTC) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this was just another challenging workday. In 1996 there was little public acknowledgement of anything having to do with women or girls being impacted by HIV/AIDS.
If my co-workers and I were aware of anything particularly meaningful on that day, it was that the numbers of infected women and children in major cities throughout the United States were skyrocketing; and all of those people desperately needed the medical and social services our nonprofit agency could provide. To help meet this escalating situation, I was given a small caseload within 10 days of being hired. By 2000, I was caring for 50 families, the majority having multiple infected members in them.