Tackling Urgent Health Inequalities

3 April 2018

Nearly 18 million women (15 years+) make up over half of all adults living with HIV and young women (15-24 years) account for 60 percent of those infected in their age group. The World Health Organization states that women living with HIV in many countries are not afforded equal access to treatment and are often victims of discrimination and increased violence – including infringement upon their sexual and reproductive rights.

This worrying issue formed part of the discourse at this year’s International Women’s Day celebrated by the foundation in Makurdi, with the theme, ‘Keeping the Promise to Women.” says Steve Aborisade, the Advocacy and Marketing Manager of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). The global event stemmed from the reality of the condition of women all over the world and the need to check the marginalization of women in all spheres of life.

“There is need to empower women to help them lead productive lives. So this effort is aimed at bringing Benue women together to hear from them on the challenges they face daily. Their health challenges, especially in the area of HIV because women and girls are the population that are mostly affected. Women are the people who are unable to negotiate safe sex. They are the people who most times are unable to take decisions regarding their reproductive rights.They must obtain permission from their husbands to access services. These have great impacts on their lives,” he added.

The event was held as a town hall meeting with over 250 women participants from UNAIDS, state agencies, civil society organizations and women's associations. The topmost agenda was to discuss health inequalities women suffer, particularly in relation to HIV services, and consensus was on the need to ensure adequate access is provided to women for quality health care. Several women shared issues they were facing including: violence, poverty and the inability to voice issues affecting them. 

To this end, the AHF Chief of Global Policy, Advocacy and Marketing, Terri Ford, thinks that, “the world cannot go on talking about the end of AIDS ,while HIV remains one of the leading causes of death among women, especially among young women and girls in developing countries. From the smallest community clinic, all the way to the national health programs and at the international level, we must keep the promise to women by ensuring that they are empowered and able to access reproductive and health services, including HIV treatment, testing and prevention without long waiting times and without fear of intimidation and stigma.” 

Read the full article online here.