Groups Mark World Human Rights Day With HIV/AIDS Awareness ActivitiesUNAIDS and the Global Coalition for Women and AIDS to mark world Human Rights Day on Friday concluded their gender violence activism campaign, which aimed to raise awareness of the "links between gender-based violence and the spread of HIV infection," according to a UNAIDS release. Violence puts women at an increased risk of contracting HIV, especially during rape, when women and girls may suffer vaginal or anal tearing and bleeding that make them more susceptible to the virus. "Not only does forced sex make women more liable to infection but the fear of violent male reactions -- physical and psychological -- prevents many women from going to find out more about HIV," UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said, adding, "It discourages them from getting tested and stops them [from] seeking treatment." The campaign, titled "16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence," urged countries and nongovernmental organizations to take responsibility for ending violence against women. The campaign featured marches, seminars, training programs and theatrical productions in countries worldwide, all with the theme "For the Health of Women, For the Health of the World: No More Violence," according to UNAIDS (UNAIDS release, 12/10).
In addition, the World Health Organization and the Federation International Football Association to mark Human Rights Day are working together to combat HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination and "promote human rights in relation to HIV/AIDS," according to a WHO release. The two groups plan to distribute a cartoon booklet in Botswana, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia and organize events to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and education among young people. The booklet, titled "HIV/AIDS -- Stand Up for Human Rights," aims to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and human rights, address "myths and taboos" associated with the disease and empower youth to promote human rights, according to WHO. "Promoting and protecting human rights in the context of HIV/AIDS is essential to ensure an effective response to the epidemic," Dr. Jim Yong Kim, director of the WHO HIV/AIDS department, said, adding, "This means not only ensuring access to treatment as part of the realization of the right to health but equally addressing HIV-related stigma and discrimination; paying particular attention to vulnerable population groups; incorporating a gender perspective; and making sure that other related human rights aspects, such as the right to information and the right to participation, are integral components in our response to this epidemic" (WHO release, 12/10).