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Mount comprehensive responses tailored to national realities.
How To Make Global HIV/AIDS $$$ Work For Women
1. Make reproductive health services with HIV/AIDS and other STI capabilities universally available
These services are a key entry point for women to the health system and are widely accepted.1
Their cost effectiveness is very high because they have multiple benefits, including reducing poverty and hunger, ensuring educational opportunities and gender equality, and attaining environmental sustainability.1
2. Expand access to subsidized female and male condoms, and develop and disseminate microbicides, other women-initiated prevention methods, and vaccines
Studies in Kenya, Zambia, the United States, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Nigeria show that encouraging use of both male and female condoms increases the proportion of protected sex acts.2
An effective and accessible microbicide could avert more than 2.5 million deaths over a three-year period.3 There are currently three first-generation microbicide products in large-scale efficacy trials throughout Africa and India.4
3. Provide comprehensive sexuality education for all young people
These programs tend to delay the beginning of sexual activity, and increase condom or contraceptive use for those who are already sexually active.5
There is no evidence that abstinence-only sexuality education delays sexual initiation, or has any value for adolescents who are sexually active.5
4. Provide financing on a priority basis
Sexual and reproductive ill health accounts for an estimated one-third of the global burden of illness and early death borne by women of reproductive age, and 20 percent for all people.6
The 2006 G8 Communiqué commits rich countries to "scale up support to address the rising rates of HIV infection among young people, particularly young girls and women."7
It can be done-some strong examples:
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has introduced the Protection Against Transmission of HIV for Women and Youth (PATHWAY) Act, which would increase access to female condoms; confront gender-based violence, sexual coercion, and child marriage; promote positive male behavior and respect for women's rights; bolster reproductive health services; and expand educational and economic opportunities. 8
In the mid-90s, a coordinated government and civil society initiative to reform the health sector recognized social and gender equity as central concerns of the health system and took steps to develop a strong base of community support for the proposed changes. As a result, more women received antenatal care, female life expectancy increased, and maternal mortality decreased.9
The Family Life and HIV/AIDS Education Program has been developed in partnership with community organizations to bring comprehensive sexuality education to young people starting in primary school and continuing through university.10 In Nigeria, for example, the Gender, Human Rights, and HIV/AIDS Initiative Group (GRI), a group of non-governmental women's health and gender experts, advises Nigeria's national government on development and implementation of its HIV/AIDS policy.
Civil society advocacy and monitoring will continue to be critical in fostering political will for these initiatives and maintaining accountability.9 The Pakistan National AIDS Consortium (PNAC), a network of six provincial/regional NGO networks, facilitates communication, cooperation and collaboration among NGOs working on HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment in Pakistan and represents the consortia at the national level.11
1 UN Millennium Project. Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, 2005.
2 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Path. The Female Condom: A Powerful Tool for Protection, Seattle: UNFPA, PATH, 2006.
3 International Partnership for Microbicides, "About Microbicides," 2005.
4 Alliance for Microbicide Development, "Microbicide Clinical Trials Summary," October 2006.
5 Satcher D. The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior, Rockville, MD: Office of the Surgeon General, 2001.
6 The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) and UNFPA. Adding It Up: The Benefits of Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health Care, New York: AGI, 2003.
7 Group of 8 Summit Documents, "Fighting against infectious diseases," July 16, 2006.
8 Office of U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee. "Congresswoman Lee Introduces Legislation to Reduce Women's and Girls' Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS," Press Release, June 22, 2006.
9 Jahan, R, "Restructuring the Health System: Experiences of Advocates for Gender Equity in Bangladesh." Reproductive Health Matters, May 2003.
10 Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. "Nigeria Working to Implement Comprehensive Sexuality Education as Part of HIV Prevention." Policy Update, August 2005.
11 Pakistan National AIDS Consortium, http://www.pnac.net.pk/, accessed October 2006.
Prepared by the International Women's Health Coalition, October 2006.