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FIGO Reaffirms Commitment: World Aids Day (1 December 2010)
World Aids Day is an international day to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS globally. The first day was marked on 1 December 1988.
The day has become one of the most recognised international health days in the global calendar and presents opportunities to raise awareness, remember those who have died, and celebrate achievements, such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.
UNAIDS managed World AIDS Day campaigning until 2004. From then on, the World AIDS Campaign's Global Steering Committee began selecting a theme for World AIDS Day in consultation with civil society, organisations and government agencies involved in the AIDS response.
The theme for World AIDS Day 2009-2010 is ‘Universal Access and Human Rights’. As 2010 is a significant milestone for the progress of the Millennium Development Goals, World AIDS Day is a vital opportunity to emphasise the critical need for universal access to essential care.
What is HIV/AIDS?
• HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus
• HIV causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) by damaging the immune system cells until the system can no longer fight off infections it would normally prevent
• It can be several years before HIV has damaged the immune system enough for AIDS to develop
A global issue - some recent statistics
The latest statistics (estimates) of the global HIV and AIDS epidemic were published by UNAIDS in November 2009, and refer to the end of 2008.
• People living with HIV/AIDS in 2008: 33.4 million
• Adults living with HIV/AIDS in 2008: 31.3 million
• Women living with HIV/AIDS in 2008: 15.7 million
• Children living with HIV/AIDS in 2008: 2.1 million
• People newly infected with HIV in 2008: 2.7 million
• Children newly infected with HIV in 2008: 0.43 million
• AIDS deaths in 2008: 2.0 million
• Child AIDS deaths in 2008: 0.28 million
• More than 25 million people have died from AIDS since 1981
• Africa has over 14 million AIDS orphans
• In developing and transitional countries, 9.5 million people are in immediate need of life-saving AIDS drugs; of these, only 4 million (42%) are receiving the drugs
What is the impact on women’s health?
At the end of 2008, women accounted for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide
Women bear particular burdens:
• Responsibility of care (care-giving usually falls to women)
• Mother-to-child transition (many women with HIV do not have adequate access to available drugs to lessen the chances of their unborn children contracting HIV)
• Medical differences (there are some differences between men and women in relation to opportunistic infections and antiretroviral drugs)
It can be difficult for women to protect themselves from infection:
• Family inequalities - in many societies, women have few rights within sexual relationships/the family
• Violence against women - women who experience sexual violence face a higher risk of being exposed to the HIV virus
• Women’s inheritance and property rights - women’s limited economic stability can lead to sexual exploitation and violence
HIV/AIDS affects women at all levels of society in all countries. The AIDS pandemic, especially in low-resource countries, has aggravated the challenges in capital and health workforce resources in providing even emergency obstetric care, due to several reasons: a severely depleted workforce due to the deaths of nurses and other health professionals from AIDS; a shifting health workforce from sectors including reproductive health into HIV/AIDS; stigma for health professionals accessing HIV/AIDS screening and antiretroviral drugs; until recently, lack of political will to address maternal health; and a focus on PMTCT (Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission) as essential, without adequately addressing the consequences for the woman who is HIV-positive.
As a leading organisation dedicated to promoting the well-being of women and to raise the standards of practice in obstetrics and gynecology, FIGO has a vision that women of the world should achieve the highest possible standards of physical, mental, reproductive and sexual health and well-being throughout their lives.
It is a basic human right of a woman to live a life free from HIV/AIDS. Stigma and discrimination continue to present barriers in a number of settings, including health and education, so fresh approaches are required to ensure an end to violations of sexual/reproductive rights. All women, everywhere, count.
What are FIGO’s aims?
• To promote condom-use as a necessary preventative measure
• To educate and support HIV-positive new mothers in the area of ‘replacement-feeding’
• To focus on PMTCT (Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission)
• To improve access to anti-retroviral drugs
• To promote women-centred healthcare
• To end gender-based violence
• To reduce the stigma of HIV and HIV-testing through improving education, both in and out of schools
• To encourage women’s financial independence
FIGO’s specialist work in this area
Through education and advocacy activities of FIGO member societies
The FIGO Committee for Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights encourages member societies to use existing international human rights to improve women’s reproductive and sexual health in their countries through collaboration, education and advocacy, and it recommends ways in which FIGO and its constituent societies can collaborate with national governments and other organisations to further advance these rights.
Developing robust ‘Guidelines For The Management Of Sexual Violence’
Implementation of the recommendations in these recently finalised guidelines should result in more appropriate management of survivors of sexual violence; reduced risk of contraindicated practices and inadequate documentation; better psychological recovery; and prevention of STI, post-rape pregnancy and HIV.
World Congress 2015