30 October 2017
According to the UNAIDS latest report, 19.5 million people are using antiretroviral medicines to stop the HIV virus from spreading to their immune system and the death toll from the virus has reduced from 1.9 million in 2005 to 1 million in 2016. However, there is still no easy way for women to protect themselves from acquiring HIV during sex. One type of drug can, but only if taken daily. Condoms can serve as protection, but it's the man who controls it. In too many societies, if the man doesn't want to use a condom, he will not, which means the woman cannot protect herself.
According to the UN, young women between the ages of 15 and 24 are twice as likely to become infected with HIV than young men of the same age. In eastern and southern Africa, young women account for more than a quarter of new HIV infections, even though they only make up 10 percent of the population.
Women continue to be left behind in the progress against HIV, and that puts women — and everyone who depends on them — at risk.
Canada's new feminist foreign aid policy provides hope, however. Donor countries are increasingly and publicly focusing on women first as they set their priorities. We now need more countries like Canada to join in reducing the inequities that women face in public health crises like HIV. Canada's new policy will focus on sub-Saharan Africa, which has some very clear problems to address in women's health. Should Canada invest in women's HIV prevention, Africa would benefit greatly.
Read the full article online here.