Women’s Health Advocates Call for New Approaches To Preventing HIV/AIDS
Citing concerns that the ABC prevention method -- which stands for Abstinence, Be faithful and use Condoms -- does not provide women with sufficient protection against HIV/AIDS because of issues such as rape, early marriage and low condom use, advocates for women's reproductive health recently called for new approaches to reducing the disease among women, Ghana's Public Agenda reports. According to the Public Agenda, the ABC method is not considered a pragmatic option for millions of women and girls in Africa who often are taught to obey men.
Bernice Heloo, president of the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa who spoke at a workshop aimed at providing the media and women with skills to address HIV/AIDS, said that more women are contracting HIV because of several factors, including gender inequality. "Women are already marginalized, and HIV and AIDS have worsened their plight," Heloo said, adding, "It is very difficult for them to negotiate condom use." She also said that although the emergence of antiretroviral drugs has made significant gains in HIV/AIDS prevention, many people living with the disease, particularly women, do not have access to the drugs or cannot buy them.
In terms of the media, Heloo said that because HIV now can be managed by antiretrovirals, the media have "a great responsibility to project this to reduce stigmatization and discrimination." In addition, she stressed the need to present HIV/AIDS as a disease that can affect anyone, rather than just low-income people. Tim Quashigah of the Ghana Institute of Journalism added that because reporting on HIV/AIDS is a political issue, journalists need to understand the political climate and educate themselves on the dynamics of the disease (Amankwah, Public Agenda, 10/20).