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Global : GCWA World AIDS Day statement 2011

01 Dec, 2011
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By: GCWA

On World AIDS Day 2011 the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS (GCWA) joins partners in the call to “get to zero”: zero new HIV infections; zero discrimination; and zero AIDS related deaths. Getting to zero requires meeting the HIV related needs of women and girls in all their diversity.

Women account for over half of new HIV infections, and represent 70% of the world's poor. In sub-Saharan Africa, 60% of people living with HIV are women and in the majority of countries the epidemic shows the most growth among women between the ages of 15 and 24. HIV is the leading cause of death of women of reproductive age; and contributed to approximately 20% of the global maternal mortality.The risk of HIV among women who have experienced violence may be up to three times higher than those who have not.

Getting to zero requires gender transformative HIV responses that addressing the specific needs of women and girls. It also requires innovation, bold steps and a commitment which transcends professional and personal spheres. Indeed, meeting the needs of women and girls in the HIV response is something that each and every person, organization, government, and stakeholder can contribute to. 

As we commit to getting to zero, we must come together to take actions that will have the transformative effect needed on the epidemic and women and girls lives. The Global Coalition on Women and AIDS, a broad based coalition of civil society and United Nations partners committed to addressing HIV and women’s rights, calls on countries, development and civil society partners to:

1.    Enable and foster the meaningful participation and leadership of women’s rights organizations, including networks of women living with HIV, at every stage of national AIDS planning and programming to ensure that HIV interventions are effectively designed, implemented, and monitored.

2.    Advocate for and support the inclusion of dedicated activities for women in national multi-sectoral HIV strategies and allocate an adequate budget to meet the specific HIV and sexual and reproductive health needs and rights of women, in at least 80% of middle and low-income countries.

3.    Take innovative action to strengthen women’s and girls access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services that meet the needs and protect the rights of women and girls in all of their diversity, including through provision of comprehensive sexuality education in safe, empowering spaces and economic empowerment.

4.    Support and take forward an essential package of sexual and reproductive health services (contraception, ante-natal and post-natal care, skilled birth attendance, emergency obstetric care, safe abortion where legal and post-abortion care, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV and reproductive cancers) as a high priority of global health initiatives, with emphasis on quality of care to ensure that women are treated with dignity and respect, free of violence, coercion, stigma and discrimination

This call is even more urgent in light of the recent announcement by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund ) cancelling the planned next round of disease-control funding, the 11th since its inception. This decision means that the Global Fund will barely be able to maintain its present programming, which is likely to have a significant impact on women, as programmes that protect their health and rights will be affected, and access to treatment and prevention services will become even more limited.

The GCWA will take this commitment forward in its work for a world free of HIV-related stigma and discrimination, violence against women and girls, and gender inequalities. In doing so, we will continue to embody the words of a GCWA member, who noted that “GCWA works with women and girls, they don’t do things for women: they do things with women and that is the most important thing.”