Gender inequalities continue to increase the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV infection, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 14 women are infected for every 10 males, according to the 2008 UNAIDS Annual Report.
The report “Towards Universal Access” said in addition to increasing access to HIV prevention services for women and girls, UNAIDS is encouraging countries to redouble efforts to address vulnerability.
UNAIDS is an innovative joint venture of the United Nations (UN), bringing together the efforts and resources of the UNAIDS Secretariat and 10 UN System Organisations in the AIDS response.
UNAIDS said throughout 2008, it continued to promote the human rights of women and girls and to push for implementation of services that directly correspond to their needs, be it access to integrated reproductive health services or challenging discriminatory laws and practices that contribute to HIV transmission.
“In 2008, UNAIDS Special Envoys Ms Elizabeth Mataka and Dr. Nafis Sadik focused on gender and the feminization of HIV. Both lobbied against the perpetuation of harmful practices and spoke out against commercial sexual exploitation and the trafficking of women and girls,” the Report said.
It added that in the same year: “UNFPA worked with other UNAIDS cosponsors to accelerate the scale-up of prevention of mother-to-child transmission services by providing a basic package of HIV services in maternal health-care settings and for sexual and reproductive health for women living with HIV and by linking maternal health services with other sexual and reproductive health services.”
The Report also noted that the UNFPA and partners also completed two additional National Report Cards on HIV prevention for girls and young women. The Report Cards, now numbering 25, chart the progress in meeting HIV global commitments and offer recommendations designed to enhance prevention strategies and services for young women and girls.
“Investing in women and girls” was the theme of the International Women’s Day (9 March, 2008), which had a specific focus on country-level financing for gender equality. The priority theme of the 52nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which concluded on 7 March, 2008, was financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
UNAIDS delivered a statement to the Commission to drew attention to the links between gender inequality and increased vulnerability to HIV infection among women and adolescent girls and to call for ensuring greater and more sustainable financing for gender equality.
The Report also said the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR led the UNAIDS family in strengthening its HIV programmes targeting displaced persons in Africa, particularly women and girls.It said the organisation focused on improving reproductive health, public health and nutritional service, specifically with regard to scaling up family planning services, safe motherhood, obstetric care and sexual and gender-based violence services. Source - The Voice