UN Women Spotlights Persistent Challenges and Impact of AIDS on Women

Date: 07 Jun 2011

UN Women Press Release
For immediate release

Media Contact: Oisika Chakrabarti, Media Specialist, UN Women, oisika.chakrabarti[at]unwomen.org, +1 646 781-4522

United Nations, New York, 7 June 2011 — As world leaders gather at UN Headquarters in New York this week to chart the future course of the global AIDS response, UN Women is advocating for a robust response for those infected and affected by HIV — particularly women and girls. The organization is calling for concerted action on the unfulfilled commitments made to women and girls to alleviate the suffering that comes from stigma, violence, and the burden of caring for the sick.

There is good news: the latest data shows that the overall number of newly infected people is shrinking and can continue to decrease, especially as new tools of prevention become accessible. However, according to a new UN report, of the young people who make up an estimated 41 percent of new infections, the majority of them — more than 60 percent — are young women, with numbers rising to an alarming high of 72 percent in sub-Saharan Africa — a clear demonstration of the long-recognized linkages between gender inequalities and the risk of infection.

The 2011 High-Level Meeting on AIDS marks the 10th anniversary of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS of 2001 and 30 years into the AIDS epidemic. Despite the commitments made to gender equality at the international level, women infected and affected by HIV still continue to face persistent challenges in the areas of prevention, treatment, care and support services.

“If we are to truly change the course of the epidemic and bring an end to this pandemic, we must take this opportunity to back our commitments with actions and resources, and include the voices of HIV-positive women in the design of effective solutions, said Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. “They know what to do — and we know what to do. We just need to do it.

UN Women, the youngest UN organization, which became operational on 1 January 2011, is charged with advancing gender equality. It merges four previously distinct parts of the UN system which focused exclusively on gender equality and women's empowerment.

During the meeting, UN Women will put forth several key recommendations to ensure that gender equality is a central element of the future course of the AIDS response. They include:

  • Empower HIV positive women as “agents of change;
  • Facilitate better access for women to prevention, treatment and care services;
  • Ensure adequate financing for women's needs and priorities; and
  • Address violence against women.

On the occasion of the High-Level Meeting, UN Women is co-organizing two events that will focus attention on the needs and priorities of women in the context of HIV and that advocate for a redoubled effort to make gender equality a genuine principle of the global response. Event details at www.unwomen.org/calendar-of-events/?event_id=16.

UN Women is also relaunching the Gender Equality and HIV/AIDS Web Portal — at www.genderandaids.org — a comprehensive, up-to-date, online resource for practitioners and experts.