Friday, September 2, 2016

FIVE KEY RECOMMENDATIONS TO FAST-TRACK THE HIV RESPONSE AND END THE AIDS EPIDEMIC AMONG YOUNG WOMEN AND GIRLS


The 2011 UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS pledged to eliminate gender inequalities and genderbased abuse and violence, and to increase the capacity of women and adolescent girls to protect themselves from the risk of HIV infection, but the scale-up of evidence-informed and resourced interventions has not been fast enough. Although the inclusion of gender equality in national HIV responses is a recognized game changer, a survey of 104 countries found that only 57% had an HIV strategy that included a specific budget for women in 2014 (27). Moreover, the underlying structural gender inequality drivers that exacerbate young women’s and girls’ physiological vulnerability to HIV are often ignored. Global commitment is needed for the five recommendations outlined below.

1. Women’s agency, participation and leadership
2. Strategies to reduce intimate partner violence and reduce vulnerability to HIV
3. Scaling up social protection and cash transfers to reduce poverty and girls’ vulnerability to HIV
4. Strategies to keep girls in school and comprehensive sexuality education
5. Scaling up and integrating HIV with sexual and reproductive health services

Fast-tracking the end of the AIDS epidemic by 2030 requires strong political leadership and commitment to stop new infections and deaths among young women and adolescent girls and eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV. This requires building on, and extending Africa’s commitments on sexual and reproductive health and rights, expanding ministerial commitments on comprehensive sexuality education and stopping early marriage, adolescent pregnancy and expanding treatment service coverage. The technical and programmatic solutions are within our reach. An effective and sustainable HIV response must call for scaling up poverty reduction and social protection programmes that keep girls in school and reduce vulnerability to HIV; community programs that engage men and boys and eliminate intimate partner and advance gender equality; ensuring that young women and girls can access good-quality youth friendly, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services that respond to their specific needs.

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