U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Says Women Especially Vulnerable to Disease in Sub-Saharan Africa
U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis last week in Salt Lake City said that women in sub-Saharan Africa are "particularly vulnerable" to HIV infection because "gender equality is a death knell," the Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News reports. Lewis, in a speech at Salt Lake Community College, said that for some African women marriage is one of the "most hazardous environments" because married women often do not have the right to refuse sex with their husbands or negotiate condom use, according to the Morning News. Lewis also cited figures from the XV International AIDS Conference showing that women represent 75% of the 6.2 million HIV-positive people ages 15 to 24 in Africa and that more than 20 million African children will lose one or both parents to AIDS-related illness by 2010. However, Lewis said there is "hope" in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa, according to the Morning News. He said that the World Health Organization's 3 by 5 Initiative -- which aims to treat three million HIV-positive people with antiretroviral drugs by 2005 -- will "unleash a reservoir of hope," according to the Morning News. Lewis also said that treatment is available to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission and that microbicides -- which include a range of products such as gels, films, sponges and other products that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in women -- are in development. Lewis, who is Canadian, last year began the Stephen Lewis Foundation to provide support and care to people in sub-Saharan Africa who are affected by HIV/AIDS, according to the Morning News (Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News, 11/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.