|Women and the Global AIDS Epidemic|
The Lancet 2009; 373: 544 (February 14, 2009)
We are concerned that the single reference to women's vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in your Special Report "What next for UNAIDS?" (Dec 20, p 2099)(1) is not only also misleading and inaccurate, but anonymous. Why would a "researcher" require his or her statement to be off the record?
Perhaps the answer is the statement's obvious bias. The researcher states "There is only one region in the world where the majority of infections are in women and that is Africa", ignoring two crucial facts. First, most people living with HIV/AIDS - more than 22 of 33.2 million - live in sub-Saharan Africa and, among adults (those older than 15 years), 59% of these are women. (2) Second, women are increasingly at risk in many of the world's most affected regions, and are often at higher risk than men. (2)
The statement "...we see this [majority of new infections in women] only in certain age ranges" downplays what most would agree is one of the most egregious aspects of the pandemic: in sub-Saharan Africa, 76% of young people aged 15-24 years living with HIV/AIDS are female. (3)
The researcher quoted by Pam Das and Udani Samarasekera concludes by blaming attention to the feminisation of HIV/AIDS for failure to address the epidemic in men who have sex with men. We are not aware of any evidence for this assertion. Why would The Lancet print such a statement and allow it to be anonymous?
(1) Das P, Samarasekera U. What next for UNAIDS? Lancet 2008; 372: 2099-102.
(2) UNAIDS. 2008 report on the global AIDS epidemic: executive summary. Geneva: UNAIDS, 2008.http://www.unaids.org/en/Knowledge Centre/HIVData/GlobalReport/2008/2008_Global_report.asp (accessed Jan 26, 2009).
(3) UNAIDS. 2004 report on the global AIDS
epidemic. Geneva: UNAIDS, 2004. http://www.
Reprinted with permission from the Lancet. Click here to access the website of the Lancet.