Action for Universal Access 2010 Myths Realities by fzk93926


									     Action for Universal
     Access 2010:

                                Women, Girls and HIV

Issue Statement
We must redouble our efforts to address the needs of women and girls in order to curb the HIV epidemic and
meet universal access targets and commitments.

Key Messages
 ▪ Women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa comprise more than 60 percent of those who are living with HIV.
   The high rates of infection among women are fuelled by women’s lack of decision-making power in mar-
   riages, socio-economic inequalities, discrimination, and violence against women and girls.
 ▪   HIV positive women in particular face stigma, discrimination and violence, which can prevent them from
     accessing HIV services and being able to act on prevention and treatment information.
 ▪   HIV services must be integrated with sexual and reproductive health services that respect the rights of
     women, including HIV positive women, to control all matters related to their sexuality and reproductive
     decisions – including whether to have children, and the number and spacing of their children.
 ▪   Women must have better access to antenatal and postnatal care, health care (including HIV testing and
     care) for their infants, treatment for reproductive tract infections and STDs, safe abortion services and
     counselling related to responsible parenting, including infant feeding practices.

Background: Myths vs. Realities – The Road to Universal Access
Although gender equality and ensuring access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services for women and
girls are identified in many commitments on HIV and AIDS, including the 2001 and 2006 declarations, the
reality is that concrete programmes and indicators on gender equality and women’s empowerment are rarely
included in national HIV plans.
 ▪   Only 18 percent of countries recently surveyed by UNAIDS, included legal aid services or programmes
     to enforce/protect women’s property rights. Less than half of the countries surveyed had programmes to
     address violence against women or programmes to address women’s socio-economic inequality.
 ▪   HIV positive women often feel pressure to share their medications with their families, which affects their
     ability to consistently take their medications.
 ▪   Evidence from community organizations suggests that stigma and discrimination faced by HIV positive
     women in health care settings discourage them from seeking services and create a fear of service provid-
 ▪   Laws that criminalize HIV transmission create a situation in which women could be prosecuted for trans-
     mitting the virus to their children or sexual partners, even when revealing their HIV status may result in
     violence or discrimination. This is further complicated by gender inequalities in access to legal services
     that further marginalize HIV positive women.
 ▪   Routine testing and partner notification policies have the potential to create (and have already created in
     some countries) a coercive environment for women and girls that has significant negative repercussions
     for their health and safety.
The Role of Civil Society
Women’s organizations and networks, particularly those serving HIV positive women, need to be included in
planning and implementing HIV policies and programmes at the international, national and local levels. This
includes UN agencies, national AIDS coordinating mechanisms, faith-based organizations, and community
groups. Our knowledge and experience is vital to reaching universal access goals and commitments related to
women and girls.

                ▪ Bring HIV positive women into key decision-making positions in planning
                  and implementing HIV programmes and services.
                 ▪   Establish legal and policy frameworks that provide effective protection
                     for women, including HIV positive women, against domestic and sexual
                     violence and promote gender equality, inheritance and property rights for
                     women, and access to financial credit and employment.
                 ▪   Abolish laws that criminalize HIV transmission. They don’t work.
                 ▪   Prioritize funding for evidence-based policies and programmes that ensure
                     the full participation of positive women and girls in program design and
                 ▪   Encourage the employment of HIV positive women in HIV and sexual and
                     reproductive health services.
                 ▪   Fund programmes that support the integration of sexual and reproductive
                     health services, maternal, child and newborn health services and HIV ser-
                 ▪   Governments should provide comprehensive sexual education to women
                     and girls, including condom negotiation strategies, and access to male and
                     female condoms. Comprehensive sexuality education should also include a
                     focus on gender inequality and stereotypes, and the need to discuss sex and

This paper was prepared under the auspices of the Civil Society Task Force for the 2008 UN High Level Meeting on AIDS.

For more information, contact:                                     Media contact:
Kieran Daly: + 1 416 275 8413 •                  Callie Long: +1 647 267 9813 •

To top