UNICEF Calls for More Attention to HIV/AIDS Among Women on International Women’s Day
Military conflicts -- which have displaced 35 million women and children -- and "entrenched gender inequalities" are exacerbating the spread of HIV among women, according to a UNICEF press release marking International Women's Day, which is tomorrow. During and following wars or occupations, women and girls "endure extreme sexual violence and abuse" that can spread the disease. For example, 2,000 Rwandan women, many of whom were survivors of rape, were tested for HIV during the five years following the 1994 genocide. Four out of five tested HIV-positive, and many of the women were not sexually active before the genocide. Women under age 25 face "especially bleak prospects," according to UNICEF, because they are becoming infected at higher rates than men in the same age group, and are more likely to forego school to care for a family, which means that they may be "shut out" from HIV/AIDS prevention information taught in schools. Carol Bellamy, executive director of UNICEF, said that "long-term, community-based work" is needed "to undo harmful norms that perpetuate gender-based violence" and to ensure that girls attend school (UNICEF release, 3/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.