Women, Girls, and HIV

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Photograph contributed by Aaron Clamage Photography

We cannot put an end to HIV without prioritizing women. Women now account for more than half of the world’s population living with HIV, and HIV/AIDS is one of the leading causes of death for women of reproductive age (15-44). Women must be at the center of U.S. global HIV policies and programs if the U.S. government intends to sincerely address the HIV epidemic. 

Prioritizing women means that HIV policies and programs are based on women’s health needs and human rights, unfettered by political agendas. HIV interventions must  integrate family planning and other reproductive health services, without exception—family planning and HIV are intrinsically linked. HIV prevention strategies must promote tools women can use to protect themselves, such as female condoms. All women must have access to the tools and services necessary to protect themselves from HIV infection and plan their families. 

It also requires that global HIV interventions are grounded in women’s rights. The HIV pandemic is dependent on the systemic human right violations, such as gender inequality and violence against women, that render women at a disproportionate risk of infection. To end HIV, U.S. global health policy has to address the things that are bigger than HIV. To end HIV, it has to start with women.

Additional resources:
A Woman-centered Approach to the U.S. Global Health Initiative
The U.S. Global Health Initiative and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: Integration
Ribbons Without Rights Don't Save Lives

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Pledge to Take Action on Global Female Condom Day

Global Female Condom Day is September 16th! You can help advocate for greater access to female condoms by pledging to take action as part of a movement of women and allies around the world who are taking control of their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Click the link below to sign the pledge!

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AIDS-free Generation? Not Without Women Image

AIDS-free Generation? Not Without Women

Women are now the majority of people living with HIV worldwide. The HIV pandemic has changed--our responses have to change with it, or we'll never create an AIDS-free generation.

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Source60,000The number of maternal deaths attributed to HIV in 2008.

Source52%Women make up approximately 52% of the total global population living with HIV.

Source8In sub-Saharan Africa, women 15-24 years old are 8 times more likely than men to be HIV positive.

Source$15 billionLaunched in 2003 by President George W. Bush, PEPFAR pledged $15 billion over 5 years to combat global HIV/AIDS.

Source$48 billionPEPFAR was reauthorized on July 30, 2008 and authorized $48 billion through fiscal year 2013.

Source7,400Globally, there are 7,400 new HIV infections every day.

Source340 millionEach year there are 340 million new cases of curable sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Source33.3 millionWorldwide there are approximately 33.3 million people living with HIV.

Source#1Globally, HIV is the leading cause of death and disease in women of reproductive age.

Source15.9 millionOf the 33.3 million adults living with HIV in 2009, 15.9 million were women.

Huffington Post: Time to Bridge the Gap for Women’s Health

Nearly 20 years ago, the global community gathered at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo and declared -- for the first time -- that a woman's right and ability to control her reproductive health was fundamental to her well-being and key to global development.

Posted on May 23, 2013

US House votes not to reauthorise domestic violence funding bill

Violence Against Women Act (Vawa) passes Senate but is not renewed after Republicans take issue with new provisions

Posted on January 2, 2013

Coke Applies Supply-Chain Expertise to Deliver AIDS Drugs in Africa

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent tells Daniel Gross his company is expanding a project that helps nonprofits deliver vaccines in rural Africa more quickly.

Posted on September 26, 2012

The Campaign Against Women

The New York Times, May 19, 2012 - Despite the persistent gender gap in opinion polls and mounting criticism of their hostility to women's rights, Republicans are not backing off their assault on women's equality and well-being.

Posted on May 19, 2012

UN Report: Maternal Deaths Dropped by Half Over 20-Year Span

United Nations, May 16, 2012 - The global mortality rate for women giving birth has fallen by half over the past two decades, a U.N. report released Wednesday said.

Posted on May 16, 2012

Women living with HIV championing the response to AIDS in Kenya

More than 200 women living with HIV in Kenya committed to championing the response to AIDS in the country. The call for more involved action came at the end of a two-day National Leadership Conference for Women Living with HIV.

Posted on November 7, 2011

Women and HIV

What is it with women and girls? Why are we always left behind? Why can’t we choose the things we want to be a part of? Why must we always race to the front, rather than be left peacefully alone when we would rather not partake? Is it because, as women, we are strong, powerful, and the foundation of our society?

Posted on June 3, 2011

Hillary Clinton Touts Global Health Initiative as Key Foreign Policy Tool

"What exactly does maternal health or immunizations or the fight against HIV and AIDS have to do with foreign policy?" Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton queried a packed crowd of faculty and students at the Johns Hopkins School of Advance International Studies on Monday. "Well, my answer is 'everything.' "

Posted on August 17, 2010

US Policies Hinder Sex Workers’ Health, Rights

A new report released on the eve of the International AIDS Conference details how U.S. government policies not only hinder efforts to advance the health and rights of female sex workers globally but also prevents the U.S. government from realizing its own commitments in addressing the HIV epidemic.

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All Women, All Rights, Sex Workers Included:U.S. Foreign Assistance and SRHR of Female Sex Workers

This report provides an overview of best practices to advance the SRHR of FSWs, highlights some of the most urgent knowledge gaps that should be addressed by the international community, and assesses how U.S. foreign assistance can better conform with these best practices to support the SRHR of FSWs. The report also provides concrete recommendations on ways in which the U.S. government can and should take action, including supporting the decriminalization of sex work globally, eliminating the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath (APLO) and the Helms Amendment, and ending the conflation of voluntary sex work and trafficking.

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Report Summary: All Women, All Rights, Sex Workers Included:

Too often, female sex workers (FSWs) are excluded from policymaking conversations about their own sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). FSWs experience significant unmet sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) needs related to HIV/AIDS, family planning, sexual health, maternal health, and gender-based violence. Yet, the global response to the health of FSWs has focused largely on HIV, at times to the exclusion of other vital SRHR needs.

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The DREAMS Partnership

The DREAMS Partnership is a public-private partnership between the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Girl Effect to reduce the disproportionate level of new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Female Condoms

Female condoms are currently the only available prevention method that provides effective protection against both STI/HIV transmission and unintended pregnancy and that are designed for women to initiate. They are also an important method of protection for people of all genders who engage in receptive vaginal or anal sex, giving them more agency over their sexual health. They should be a standard option in an array of available methods for contraception and STI/HIV prevention to meet women's diverse needs and preferences.

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Female genital cutting & SRHR

Female genital cutting violates human rights principles and impacts the sexual and reproductive health and rights of the 133 million women and girls who have experienced cutting.

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Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath (APLO)

The anti-prostitution loyalty oath (APLO) is a provision in the U.S. Leadership Act of 2003 (the Act) which requires all recipients of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funding to “have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution.”

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What Does Female Condom Advocacy Look Like?

In 2006, CHANGE launched the Prevention Now! Campaign, a global initiative to increase access to woman-initiated prevention methods, especially female condoms, to stem the spread of HIV and reduce unintended pregnancies. Since then, the campaign has successfully increased US political, programmatic, and financial support for female condom procurement and programming. CHANGE commissioned the Iris Group to conduct qualitative research to gather donors’ and female condom advocates’ perspectives on what effective female condom advocacy looks like, and how CHANGE has supported such advocacy through its Prevention Now! Campaign.

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File Under: Research Documents

Women, Girls, and HIV Topics

Infographic: Women and HIV

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Integrating HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

HIV prevention and treatment is intrinsically linked to sexual and reproductive health. However, PEPFAR programming addresses these critical health issues in isolation.

Female Condoms: Dual Protection

The female condom is currently the only available HIV-prevention and family-planning method that women can initiate themselves. Yet, globally, female condoms continue to be underfunded and underused because of cost, stigma, and a lack of political will.