HIV/AIDS Is Social Issue Affecting Women, Botswana Conference Participants Say
September 11, 2003
HIV/AIDS should be looked at as a "social issue, not just a medical one," according to participants attending a conference on the impact of the epidemic on women that opened on Tuesday in Botswana, VOA News reports (De Capua, VOA News, 9/10). The conference, titled "Reducing Women's Vulnerability and Combating Stigma in the HIV/AIDS Pandemic in Africa," is sponsored by the International AIDS Trust, the International Center for Research on Women, the Ethical Globalization Initiative and the Center for the Study of AIDS at the University of Pretoria, with financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The conference is being held in conjunction with a human rights conference sponsored by the Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa (De Capua, VOA News, 9/5). Mary Robinson, a former U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said that HIV/AIDS should be considered a gender and human rights issue, according to VOA News. "I think that's a dimension we don't hear enough about, given that 58% of those infected here in sub-Saharan Africa are women," she said, adding that HIV/AIDS "is a disease that has a great bearing on women, whether they're victims or caregivers, whether they're policymakers trying to cope with this as we're trying to do here in this conference" (VOA News, 9/10). Sandy Thurman, president of the International AIDS Trust, said that women are "bearing the burden of caring for the sick ... taking care of orphans. They're going to the fields when their spouses or partners die. So at the end of the day this really is a huge issue for women around the world, but particularly in Africa." She added that the purpose of the conference is to "look at ways that we can use the parliamentary process to develop sound policies that help us mitigate the disease in countries hardest hit" (VOA News, 9/5).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.