Albright Discusses HIV/AIDS with South African Women Leaders
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met today with women leaders in South Africa to discuss their role in the nation's HIV epidemic, Reuters reports. South Africa, with an estimated 4.2 million HIV-positive people, is among the hardest-hit nations in the world. Albright is also scheduled to meet later today with President Thabo Mbeki, who "courted controversy" when he publicly questioned the link between HIV and AIDS. At the meeting she asked the women if there was anything they wanted her to pass on to their president. Nomfundo Walaza of the Trauma Center for Survivors of Violence and Torture said she wants to see more discussion of the role that violence against women plays in the spread of HIV. "Often in relationships, you find that partners don't declare their status, and if you infect somebody because you knew you were HIV-positive, that's violence," she said. South Africa is foremost among nations in rape statistics, and Albright told the group that she also wants an "open discussion" about the "twin epidemics" of violence against women and disease (Monaghan, Reuters, 12/8). Albright praised the efforts of South Africa's women against the disease and their active participation in politics. The nation is one of only 14 countries with female foreign ministers. Although women are taking active roles and making strides, Albright added that more work remains to be done. "Like so many other parts of the world, women remain disproportionately poor, undereducated and underemployed, while suffering too much hardship, too much violence and now the agony of HIV/AIDS," she told the gathering. Albright will move on to Mauritius and Botswana to complete her fourth and final trip to sub-Saharan Africa as secretary of state (Nessman, Associated Press, 12/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.