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Editorials and Commentary

What the AIDS Fight Could Use: Help From Men

June 12, 2003

"... In Southern Africa, nearly 30 million people -- 58 percent of them women -- are infected with HIV. The need for prevention and treatment programs is severe, the cost astronomical.

"But one course of action would cost nothing, yet provide priceless benefit to women -- help from men.

"Twice as many young women in Africa are infected as young men. But women, who by tradition carry a crushing domestic workload, are expected to take care of the sick even if they are sick themselves.

"The burden is unfathomable.

"'If just one member of a family has full-blown AIDS, he or she would need almost 24 hours of care a day,'" said Stephanie Urdang, adviser on gender and HIV/AIDS for UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Fund for Women ...

"...A recent conference organized by UNIFEM in Cape Town, South Africa... brought together women from five southern African countries who were living with HIV or AIDS, taking care of family members or working for nongovernmental organizations.

"'A unanimous plea was for more assistance from men,' UNIFEM reported afterward ...

"AIDS organizations have repeatedly warned that the burden of care in Africa is falling overwhelmingly on women and girls. UNAIDS operated a two-year campaign ending in 2001 focusing on the role of men in the AIDS epidemic, including the importance of their help in caring for the sick. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has warned that women are being overwhelmed.

"Men shouldn't look at helping women as a loss for them, Urdang said; they would benefit by being closer with their children and having more time with their wives who would no longer have to spend every waking moment doing housework alone.

"Battling AIDS on the home front is expensive. Women in Africa are helping immeasurably by doing much of the work for free. But nothing is free. They are paying with exhaustion, depression and the sacrificed futures of girls who drop out of school to help.

"The message from the UNIFEM conference was that women can't afford it any longer, and want someone else to start helping with the bill ..."

Back to other CDC news for June 12, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Chicago Tribune
06.11.03; Barbara Brotman

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
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