NGOs Call for Action Against ‘Systematic’ Rape in Africa’s War Zones, Warn of Increase in HIV Cases
Women's Equity in Access to Care and Treatment on Wednesday at the XV International AIDS Conference called for action to protect and offer medical help to women and girls raped by soldiers in the Congo, Sudan and northern Ugandan war zones, AFP/Independent Online reports. The U.S.-based, nongovernmental organization also called for help in Africa's post-war regions, where HIV-infection rates among women continue to rise. "The systematic use of rape seriously threatens to increase the spread of HIV in this region and harms ongoing prevention efforts within Sudan and neighboring countries," Clare Martin, who wrote a report for WE-ACTx on the issue, said. Few women in these regions have access to treatment because of the difficulty of reaching such war zones, said Beatrice Were of the National Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda. According to WE-ACTx, 67% of about 250,000 women who were raped in the 1994 Rwandan genocide have tested HIV-positive (AFP/Independent Online, 7/15). During the genocide, Hutu extremists in three months killed more than 800,000 minority Tutsis and Hutu moderates and Hutu militia raped Tutsi women in a plan to use AIDS as a weapon against the women (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/6). "While the world's attention focuses on fighting the global AIDS epidemic, immediate steps can and must be taken by governments and civil societies to stop these attacks on women and girls which increase their vulnerability to HIV," WE-ACTx said in a statement (AFP/Independent Online, 7/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.