UNAIDS

“Women and girls are being infected with the HIV/AIDS virus at an alarming rate in developing countries, according to a study by the United Nations Population Fund.”

Alarming Rate of HIV/AIDS Infections Among Women and Girls

By Maya Plentz

Geneva, 28thJune 2004  Women and girls are being infected with the HIV/AIDS virus at an alarming rate in developing countries. According to a recent study by the United Nations Population Fund, 67% of the new infection cases in the developing world are affecting the population of 15 to 24 years of age, with women and girls counting for 64% per cent of the population living with the disease in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, (UNAIDS), highlighted the role of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS in the development of a strategy to mitigate the impact of AIDS on women and girls worldwide.

The Global Coalition has an important message to disseminate in the upcoming XV International AIDS Conference that will take place from the 11 to the 16thof July, in Bangkok, as about half of all HIV infections occurring right now are among young women.  “That is precisely why the Global Coalition was created”, stated Dr. Piot, adding that “Because of their lack of social and economic power, many women and girls are unable to negotiate relationships based on abstinence, faithfulness and use of condoms.”.

The Global Coalition on Women and AIDS was created last February in London with the overarching goal of combating misconceptions among young women on how the HIV virus is transmitted.  The kick-off event counted with the support of actress Emma Thompson. The GCWA has in its Steering Committee the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Mary Robinson, and other high-profile personalities and government officials.

The Coalition has five key aims: to address the increasing global impact of AIDS on women and girls, to meet the targets set during the 2001 UN’s General Assembly -Special Session on AIDS – of tackling issues regarding Women and HIV by 2005, to support a wider global AIDS response, to improve prevention among women and girls and to address social and legal inequities that keep women and girls in poverty.