Celebrating 30 Years of Progress in Women's Health

Three older women smiling on a beachYour health isn't just important to you — it's important to us, too. For the past 30 years, the HHS Coordinating Committee on Women's Health (CCWH) has been leading the charge to help women and girls achieve the best possible health. I'm happy to say we've come a long way.

Did you know the Nutrition Facts label was not required until after 1990? Or that women today have more safe and effective contraception options than ever before? In celebration of the CCWH's 30th anniversary, we are highlighting 30 achievements in women's health and how our programs, research, and policies created positive change for women. Here are just a few of the highlights.

  • More women have access to affordable, quality health care under the Affordable Care Act. Passed in 2010, the health care law is the most important advance in women's health policy since 1965. Why? Because the law addresses the unique needs of women. Under most insurance plans, women can receive preventive services like annual well-woman visits, colorectal cancer screenings, and sexually transmitted infection screenings at no cost. Preventive care helps us stay healthy in the long run. Plus, women can no longer be charged more for coverage simply because they're women, nor can they be denied coverage due to a preexisting condition, such as breast cancer or pregnancy.
  • Women with HIV can have healthy babies! By taking antiretroviral medication during pregnancy, HIV-positive women can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to their babies to almost zero. Thanks to a 1994 NIH study, we learned that babies born to HIV-infected mothers were much less likely to become infected with HIV if their mothers took antiretroviral medication during pregnancy and after birth. This has completely changed health outcomes for most babies with HIV-positive mothers. We just need to ensure women with HIV get the treatment they need during pregnancy. That's why the CDC updated its recommendation in 2003 to make HIV testing a routine part of all medical and prenatal care.
  • The U.S. teen birth rate has decreased across all racial and ethnic groups. In fact, since 1991 the rates of teen pregnancy have dropped by half, reaching an all-time low. The decline is partially due to lower rates of sexual activity among young women and higher rates of birth control use among those who are sexually active.Talk to your health care provider about family planning at your annual well-woman visit. With so many safe and effective FDA-approved contraception options available, you can plan to start or grow your family when it works best for you. And cost of contraception should no longer be a barrier. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans must cover FDA-approved birth control prescribed by your health care provider without cost to you.

As the chair of the CCWH, I am extraordinarily proud to share these accomplishments with you. However, they're just a glimpse into the progress we've made. If you're interested in seeing just how far we've come, explore our interactive 30 Achievements in Women's Health in 30 Years website. You can also see an interactive slideshow on the specific contributions NIH research has made to women's health. I hope you'll join us in celebrating our anniversary by sharing this post with your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.