AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization operating in 39 countries, will mark International Women’s Day (IWD), a day of advocacy and celebration by and for women and girls, with events in over a dozen of AHF countries on or around March 8th.
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Women celebrate International Women's Day event. (Photo: Business Wire)
IWD is formally observed each year on March 8th as a combined global holiday and campaign that promotes and commemorates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. IWD also brings governments, organizations and businesses together to spark change for gender equality through action advocacy.
Almost 18 million women over the age of 15 make up over half of all adults living with HIV according to the World Health Organization, and women ages 15-24 account for 60% of those infected in that age group. Additionally, HIV positive women in many countries are not afforded equal access to treatment and are often victims of discrimination and increased violence – including infringement upon their sexual and reproductive rights.
The scenario is no different in Sub-Saharan Africa; according to the UN Women, women account for 56% of new HIV infections among adults; while young women aged 15-24 accounted for about 66% of new infections among young people. Factors such as sexual and gender-based violence, lack of access to healthcare services, forced or early marriages, gender inequalities, and weak laws increase their risk of acquiring HIV.
“The world cannot go on talking about the end of AIDS while HIV remains one of the leading causes of death among women, especially among young women and girls in developing countries. From the smallest community clinic, all the way to the national health programs and at the international level, we must keep the promise to women by ensuring that they are empowered and able to access reproductive and health services, including HIV treatment, testing and prevention without long waiting times and without fear of intimidation and stigma,” said AHF Chief of Global Policy, Advocacy & Marketing Terri Ford. “We will not rest until this happens. On this International Women’s Day, we want the world to hear loud and clear – women must be at the forefront of the global AIDS response if we want to overcome this deadly epidemic, and to do that we must invest our efforts and resources into what’s been proven to work – test and treat, and a comprehensive prevention strategy. On March 8, let’s pledge to keep fighting for women!”
“Many factors that fuel HIV among women and girls continue to exist because of weak laws and the lack of an enabling environment which makes it difficult for them to make decisions about their health and live up to their full potential. Governments must strengthen and implement laws that protect the rights of women and girls regardless of their location, status or qualification. Our goal is to see these barriers removed through targeted advocacy, service delivery and pushing for favourable policies," added Dr. Penninah Iutung, AHF Africa Bureau Chief.
AHF calls on decision makers, organizations and people everywhere to do their part to help narrow this gap and ensure that women have unimpeded access to lifesaving HIV testing, prevention services and treatment.
To view a selection of photos from last year’s IWD, please visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aidshealth/collections/72157677821369413/
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 872,000 clients in 39 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare
AHF AFRICA MEDIA CONTACT:
Oluwakemi Gbadamosi, Senior Manager, PR and Communications, AHF Africa
US MEDIA CONTACT:
Ged Kenslea, Senior Director, Communications, AHF
+1 323.308.1833 work
+1 323.791.5526 mobile
Denys Nazarov, Director of Global Policy & Communications, AHF