Four Reasons AIDS Is a Feminist Issue

1 December 2017

A lot has changed since the first World AIDS Day, in 1988, when people were still calling the disease "gay cancer" and doctors were scrambling to find a cure. Today, an HIV diagnosis isn't a death sentence, and we know that HIV and AIDS don't affect only gay men. In fact, in the last few years, a lot of HIV and AIDS prevention has revolved around Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the developing world, where the pandemic is most severe today. We don't often think of HIV and AIDS as a women's issue, but in those areas, it's women and girls who are most at risk. Here are four reasons HIV and AIDS is a cause all feminists should rally around: 

1. Most new cases of HIV are in women.
A little more than half of all people living with HIV and AIDS are women, but women—especially young women—are especially likely to contract the disease today. Adolescent girls between ages 10 and 19 are twice as likely to get HIV as boys are. Worldwide, AIDS-related illnesses are still the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age.

2. Because of sexist power dynamics, women can struggle to refuse sex or insist on using a condom.
It's heartbreaking but true. And it's part of the reason that 7,500 young women acquire HIV every week.

3. In the developing world, families suffering from AIDS often pull girls out of school to help care for the sick family member.
Because families tend to prioritize the education of their sons rather than their daughters, the burden of caring for a family member with AIDS often falls on the women of the family. Once a girl is pulled out of school, it becomes nearly impossible for her to break the cycle of generational poverty.

4. Feminism means caring about the welfare of all women and girls, everywhere.

And there are signs that women around the world need to stay vigilant on this issue. Since the U.S. started funding HIV and AIDS treatment and prevention efforts in 2003, 11 million lives have been saved—but now that's at risk. "We are finally getting ahead of this deadly disease," a new report from ONE reads. "But the progress made may soon start to unravel."

Read the full article online here