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World AIDS Day, December 1: Women and Girls

November 23, 2004

The 2004 World AIDS Day (December 1) will focus on "Women, Girls, HIV and AIDS." Local organizations plan and carry out most World AIDS Day events independently, often working through regional coordinators. This year there is no regional coordinator in the United States, but organizations can find background and many resources at www.unaids.org/wac2004/index_en.htm.

A 23-page Strategy Note for the 2004 World AIDS Campaign on women and girls is filled with compelling information that should be more widely known. For example:

"The rate of HIV infection among young people worldwide is growing rapidly -- 67% of newly infected individuals in the developing world are young people aged between 15 and 24 years. The escalating risk is especially evident among young women and girls (15-24 years), who make up 64% of the young people in developing countries living with HIV or AIDS.

"Globally, young women and girls are more susceptible to HIV than men and boys, with studies showing they can be 2.5 times more likely to be HIV-infected as their male counterparts. In sub-Saharan Africa, girls and young women are twice as likely to be HIV-infected as young men, with up to six times the infection rate of their male peers in parts of the sub-region. In parts of eastern and southern Africa, more than one-third of teenage girls are infected with HIV. This trend is also emerging in some Caribbean countries.

"So far 30 million people have died of AIDS in the two decades since the epidemic began and 40 million more people are currently infected. In poor countries, six million people with HIV/AIDS need antiretroviral treatment immediately, and women and children make up a large proportion of those who need care, treatment and support.

"Women are twice as likely as men to contract HIV from a single act of unprotected sex, but they remain dependent on male cooperation to protect themselves from infection. ..."

"Going to school is protective. Education is one of the key defenses against the spread of HIV and the impact of AIDS and the evidence for this is growing. ..."

"Where sexual violence is widespread, abstention or insisting on condom use is not a realistic option. ... Across the world, between one fifth and a half of all girls and young women report that their first sexual encounter was forced."

Quoted from World AIDS Campaign 2004: Women, Girls, HIV and AIDS, Strategic Overview and Background Note, February 2004. available through www.unaids.org/en/events/campaigns/world+aids+campaign+2004.asp.


Note: Sexual Violence Research Initiative

Separately from the 2004 World AIDS Campaign, the World Health Organization is encouraging research on sexual violence and what works to stop it. A major focus of this effort is HIV. For more information see www.who.int/svri/en.


ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 2004 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.


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