Advancing Gender Equality in the HIV Response

7 March 2018

By Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

The speed and magnitude of recent developments supporting gender equality has been quite remarkable. Barriers and discrimination that have been tolerated or overlooked for far too long are now being energetically challenged and overcome. Inspired by the courage of women who are speaking out, many people are confronting the status quo and changing it.

This year, International Women’s Day on 8 March is more than a commemoration of progress to achieve gender equality. It is a time to recognize and support the strong forces underway that are calling out discrimination and misconduct, and advancing social progress that affects all of us.

Unequal social standing for women is especially pernicious when it comes to HIV. Harmful gender norms, discrimination, violence, limited access to education and a lack of tailored services inhibit women’s and girls’ access to health care and fuel new infections. Every day, more than 1,000 teen girls and young women acquire HIV. In the hardest-hit countries, girls account for more than 80 percent of all new infections among adolescents. This is much more than a biomedical problem, and a purely medical response will not solve it.

This year, the Global Fund launched HER – HIV Epidemic Response – to marshal human and financial resources to enhance health services for adolescents, improve access to education and information, and ensure young people’s participation in designing and implementing programs meant to serve them. Ultimately, HER aims to reduce the number of new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women significantly in 13 African countries over the next five years.

Read the full article online here.