Nothing For Us Without Us, on World AIDS Day

1 December 2017

The International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) joins our members, partners, policy makers and stakeholders all over the world in celebration of World AIDS Day 2017.

This World AIDS Day, ICW is proud to share our new Joint Policy Brief: HIV Prevention that works for Women and Girls. This joint brief was prepared in collaboration with the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP), The International Network of People who use drugs (INPUD) and the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+).

This brief is the first step of a joint effort to highlight the specific prevention needs and rights of women and girls in all our diversities including women who do sex work, women who use drugs, women living with HIV, women who are refugees or migrants, living with disabilities and women from the LGBTQI communities. Together we are asking all policy makers and social development stakeholders to support interventions that promote access to the right to health for all women and girls and particularly, for women and girls living with HIV.

We issued this joint rel="noopener noreferrer" brief in support of the UNAIDS Campaign ‘My Health, My Right’ launched on November 20 2017[1] and reiterate our shared commitment towards a vision of a world where all women and girls living with HIV in all our diversity, live free of gender oppression, realizing and claiming our full rights inclusive of sexual, reproductive, legal, social, economic and health rights.

Globally, women and girls in all our diversity continue to be vulnerable to HIV acquisition and remain disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS in many regions, and particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. Current global statistics show there are 18.8 million women and girls living with HIV in the world; and women and girls accounted for 870,000 of all new infections among adults in 2016. Women in all our diversities continue to face persistent barriers to realizing our human right to health and particularly, our sexual and reproductive rights.

Even with important milestones realized on the effectiveness of antiretroviral therapy (ART), not only for prolonging lives of people living with HIV but also as a HIV prevention tool there is very still poor access, adherence and retention on ART. The evidence regarding challenges to retention and adherence is high particularly among women living with HIV in discordant relationships and within programs to prevent ‘vertical’ transmission from pregnant women living with HIV to their infants PMTCT, despite accelerated efforts to achieving the 90.90.90 targets.[2]

As we mark this day, we join in the celebration of the great achievements realized so far but remain grounded in the stark reality that much more must be done in order to end new HIV infections and realize an end to AIDS related deaths. In keeping with the progress of biomedical research and avenues for prevention and treatment of HIV we urge policy makers and stakeholders to address the ever-increasing structural barriers that continue to impede the efforts of women and girls to participate in decision-making for the development of policies and programs that affect our lives; and to access HIV prevention and treatment interventions available to us.

It is for this reason that we ask Governments, Development Partners, Policy Makers and Stakeholders to;-

- Make deliberate investments in HIV prevention interventions that work for women and girls;
- Support meaningful engagement of women and girls particularly, those of us living with HIV in policy and programing on the interventions that impact our lives;
- Promote and invest in gender equality for the effective empowerment of women, girls and our communities;
- Increase and sustain domestic financing for HIV prevention and treatment;
- Repeal and review unfavorable laws and policies that continue to criminalize HIV, sex work and people from the LGBTQI communities in order to make health rights accessible to all;
- Build capacity of communities to understand their role in the achievement of a HIV free generation;
- Take decisive steps to invest in evidence-based interventions that reduce stigma and discrimination against women and girls living with HIV and key populations.

The ambitious targets envisioned by the Sustainable Development Goals and the 90-90-90 can only be realized in an enabling environment which empowers women and girls to effectively participate in the realization and fulfillment of our human rights including the right to health and particularly, our right to sexual and reproductive health and rights. We urge our governments and all stakeholders to step up their responsibility and meet their obligations to invest, support and create an enabling environment for women and girls to access and enjoy our right to health.

Nothing for us without us!

Read the statement online here