Bush Administration AIDS Initiative Must Take ‘Concrete Steps’ To Protect Women, Young Girls, Opinion Piece Says
The United States "can take concrete steps to tackle widespread [HIV] transmission among women and girls by making their protection a priority" in President Bush's new AIDS initiative, Janet Fleischman, Human Rights Watch Washington director for Africa and chair of the Working Group on Women and Girls of the HIV/AIDS Task Force established by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, writes in an International Herald Tribune opinion piece (Fleischman, International Herald Tribune, 4/2). President Bush in his State of the Union address on Jan. 28 proposed spending $15 billion over five years to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/2). In many parts of Africa, HIV is more prevalent among teenage girls than among boys because the AIDS epidemic "is being fueled by the abuse and subordination of young women," Fleischman states. She says that sexual violence and coercion; men choosing increasingly younger women as sex partners; the growing number of AIDS orphans; the sex trade; and a lack of action by legal authorities all contribute to high HIV rates among women. Therefore, Fleischman states that an "integrated response is needed." She says that the response should include expanding social services, strengthening property and inheritance rights, investigating and prosecuting sexual violence and coercion and "dramatically expand[ing] treatment possibilities" to keep young girls' parents alive longer. Such actions "are not very costly compared to many other elements of AIDS programs," Fleischman says, concluding that if plans for the Bush administration's initiative do not include such measures to protect the rights of women and young girls, "it will be impossible to curb the AIDS epidemic" (International Herald Tribune, 4/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.