The number of African American women infected with HIV/AIDS in America is staggering. According to 2009 figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of new HIV infections among black women was 15 times that of white women, and over 3 times the rate among Hispanic/Latina women.

The Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri–St. Louis is working to stem the tide of new HIV cases by reaching out to young women in the black community and educating them about HIV/AIDS and substance abuse. People who get high, by drinking or taking drugs, may be more likely to engage in unprotected sex while under the influence.

MIMH’s Girls Holla Back! Program is devoted to reducing  new cases of HIV/AIDS, as well as reducing substance abuse among black females living in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. Girls Holla Back! will kick-off its spring session on March 3. The prevention program is free and runs a total of eight weeks. Eligible participants include African-American girls who are 12-17 years old. They’ll need to bring an adult female family member or guardian to take part in the program.

Along with drugs and HIV and AIDS prevention education, the program will offer free on-site HIV testing, bonding activities and workshop sessions to help build youth and adult communications about sexual health.

For more information on Girls Holla Back! call 314-877-6487, or visit

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez