Mexico City, August 3-8, 2008
By the end of 2007, more than 15 million women were living with HIV and AIDS. All women have the right, but many do not have the means, to protect themselves and their partners against HIV infection. Failure to protect girls' and women's rights, including their right to health and their right to live free of sexual coercion and violence, fuels the pandemic. Universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and education, and protection of sexual and reproductive rights, are more important than ever.
We call on all those at the XVII International AIDS Conference to commit to the following:
Secure leadership that is strong on the health and rights of women and young people.
In coming months, UNAIDS will recruit a new Executive Director, new posts on gender will be filled in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the next U.S. President will appoint key AIDS officials. It is essential that such leaders demonstrate expertise in gender, are committed to working with civil society organizations, are ready to deliver prevention, treatment, care, and support for women and girls, and meaningfully engage women and young people, including those living with HIV, in all stages of policy and program planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.
Support sexual and reproductive rights and health as core elements of HIV/AIDS responses.
For girls and women, HIV infection is a sexual and reproductive rights and health issue. Expanded and stronger sexual and reproductive health services can most effectively provide male and, especially, female condoms; ensure young people’s access to services; train health care personnel to provide comprehensive, affordable, and confidential services with respect; and ensure that counseling and other interventions promote mutual responsibility between partners for prevention and for care and support of those living with HIV/AIDS.
Invest more in prevention, particularly for girls and women.
Much more progress is needed on:
Collect better evidence.
- comprehensive sexuality education for all children and young people, beginning before they are sexually active, that promotes gender equality and human rights;
- research on and access to more effective, attractive, and affordable prevention methods, including female condoms, microbicides, post-exposure prophylaxis, and vaccines (for HIV, Human Papilloma Virus, and Hepatitis B);
- interventions to reduce the factors that make girls and women vulnerable, including prevention and mitigation of violence, discrimination and stigma, and prevention of harmful practices, such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, and wife inheritance; and
- promotion of equal opportunity for education, employment and livelihoods, and property and inheritance rights.
Lack of data by sex and by age (especially for subgroups among 15 to 24 year-olds) seriously hampers planning. Donors should provide adequate resources to evaluate the efficacy of interventions for women in reducing HIV incidence.