Mar 23, 2011

Reducing Women's Vulnerability to HIV


HIV is the leading cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age worldwide. IRIN/Plus News has released an article identifying the following five ways to reduce women’s vulnerability to HIV: education, economic empowerment, involving men, ending gender violence, and increasing access to reproductive health services. According to a report by the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), only 2 percent of all humanitarian aid is spent on education. Research shows that educated women are more likely to seek health services for themselves and their families, to be aware of way to protect themselves from infection, as well as refuse regressive practices, e.g. female genital mutilation. Thus, education is pivotal in reducing women’s vulnerability to HIV. Further, poverty forces women into situations that can detrimentally affect their health. For example, many are forced to engage in risky transactional sex in order to feed their families while others are unable to have a say as to when sexual intercourse can take place and whether or not a condom is used. Thus, interventions such as micro-financing are vital in helping women gain access to critical economic resources.

Reducing women’s vulnerability to HIV also requires the full commitment of men to join in all activities related to their health and respect their autonomy. Unfortunately, men often control the dynamics of how/when/where sex happens. Men must be encouraged to use condoms and to respect women’s reproductive and sexual decisions. Men are also the prime perpetrators of horrific sexual violence against women. The UN estimates that one in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape, which can result in the transmission of HIV. Ending gender violence must be addressed in order to protect women from situations that can place their health at risk. Finally, increasing access to reproductive health services is critical in order to enable women to make informed decisions in determining family size and preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

At Life for Mothers, we recognize that addressing all of the aforementioned issues is crucial in the journey towards better health for women worldwide. Reducing HIV prevalence, increasing access to reproductive health services and empowering women (making secondary education mandatory as a first step) forms an important part of LfM’s holistic strategy. Read more here:

Did you know?

Almost every minute, a woman dies related to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Source:United Nations Department of Public Information

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