New AIDS Report: Global HIV infection down, but women remain at risk ,From our friends at the World YWCA :
A new report released by UNAIDS indicates that the HIV epidemic is slowing or stabilising in many regions. Yet women and young people remain at particular risk of HIV infection. The UNAIDS ‘2008 Report on the global AIDS Epidemic’ shows that although young people are waiting longer before becoming sexually active, many still do not have accurate information on HIV transmission and how to prevent infection. The report points to a recent survey of 15-24 year olds that found only 38% of girls could correctly identify how HIV is transmitted compared to 40% of boys. "We must ensure women and girls have the information and resources they need to protect themselves," proclaimed Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary of the World YWCA speaking in response to the latest data on the AIDS epidemic, "Governments must invest in sexual reproductive health and HIV education to ensure the prevalence continues to decline."
"We are pleased that the report recognises that the status of women in society has an impact on HIV and AIDS," Susan Brennan, World YWCA President said as she welcomed the report’s emphasis on the role of government and international donors to implement strategies to increase women’s economic independence. To support the importance of women’s status in society, the report refers to a recent study that found that women who lack sufficient food are 70% less likely to perceive personal control in sexual relationships, 50% more likely to engage in intergenerational sex, 80% more likely to engage in survival sex, and 70% more likely to have unprotected sex than women receiving adequate nutrition.
"Reducing gender inequality is a crucial step in reversing the HIV epidemic," Brennan pointed out, "Civil society and women’s organisations like the YWCA must continue to challenge gender roles and cultural practises that put women and girls at risk." The report refers to a meta-analysis of programmes to promote gender equality that found programmes that expressly aimed to transform gender roles through critical reflection, role play and other interactions were most likely to be effective in producing changes in targeted attitudes and behaviours.
Although women are at risk, the report reveals that more HIV-positive women than men are receiving treatment. This sex disparity is particularly pronounced in generalised epidemics, the report explains, a possible consequence of the fact that many HIV-positive women have two portals of entry for treatment: HIV treatment programmes and programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT). From 2005 to 2007 the percentage of HIV-positive pregnant women receiving antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission went up from 14% to 33%. In this same period, the number of new infections among children fell from 410,000 to 370,000.
"Although this news is uplifting, the World YWCA continues to advocate for PMTCT programmes to be revised and to ensure mothers are not treated as vessels and vectors, but that through preventing transmission- the woman is also kept alive," said Sophie Dilmitis, World YWCA HIV and AIDS coordinator.
Brennan, Gumbonzvanda and Dilmitis, along with a delegation of YWCA representative from around the world, are in Mexico attending the XVII International AIDS Conference where they will advocate for solutions to the challenges women and girls face in the context of HIV and AIDS.
For more information and to book interviews contact Sylvie Jacquat, World YWCA Communications Assistant: Sylvie.email@example.com Tel: +52552767189