Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Women, HIV and AIDS

Today marks the UN 100th anniversary of International Women's Day and it got me thinking about Women and HIV.  I did some research and found the following from avert.org

At the end of 2009 it was estimated that out of the 33.3 million adults worldwide living with HIV and AIDS, more than half are women. It is suggested that 98 percent of these women live in developing countries. The AIDS epidemic has had a unique impact on women, which has been exacerbated by their role within society and their biological vulnerability to HIV infection.

Generally women are at a greater risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV. Biologically women are twice more likely to become infected with HIV through unprotected heterosexual intercourse than men. In many countries women are less likely to be able tonegotiate condom use and are more likely to be subjected to non-consensual sex.

Additionally, millions of women have been indirectly affected by the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Women’s childbearing role means that they have to contend with issues such as mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The responsibility of caring for AIDS patients and orphans is also an issue that has a greater effect on women.

There are a number of things that can be done in order to reduce the burden of the epidemic among women. These include promoting and protecting women's human rights, increasing education and awareness among women and encouraging the development of new preventative technologies such as post-exposure prophylaxis and microbicides.


Women, HIV and AIDS - the global picture

Globally, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age. The percentage of women living with HIV and AIDS varies significantly between different regions of the world. In areas such as Western and Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Oceania, women account for a relatively low percentage of HIV infected people. However, in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, the percentage is significantly higher.

Women and children

Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) is an issue that directly affects women and at the same time increases the spread of HIV. MTCT occurs when an HIV positive woman passes the virus to her baby during pregnancy, labour and delivery, or breastfeeding.

UNAIDS say that at the end of 2009 there were an estimated 2.5 million children (under 15 years) living with HIV, most of whom were infected by their mothers. Without treatment, a large number of these children will not live to adulthood.

Although there are drugs that can reduce the chances of a child acquiring HIV from its mother from about 40% to less than 2%, they are unavailable in many parts of the world. In recent years drugs companies have significantly reduced the price of drugs such as nevirapine and AZT, which help in preventing mother to child transmission of HIV in developing countries. However, because of limited human resources and poor infrastructures, many women are still not receiving these drugs.

I invite you to visit avert.org to read more about Women, HIV and AIDS.  It saddens me that ANYONE in this World 30 years into now what is a worldwide pandemic is still being infected with HIV.  Further I am saddened by the 2.5 million children Worldwide infected with this disease. A cure cannot come soon enough. I share the sentiment of  UNAIDS Executive Director Mr. Michel Sidibé

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