By Leah Morris
Women are particularly impacted by HIV/AIDS, alongside stigmatized and discriminated populations such as MSM. UN Women reports that HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age, worldwide. What is even more alarming, almost 60 per cent of all new HIV infections among young persons occurred among adolescent girls and young women; this translates into almost 1,000 young women newly infected with HIV every day.
Why are women more affected? In many cases women are put in positions where they have no voice in their sexuality. This includes sexual violence and trafficking.
Ending the AIDS epidemic requires that we discuss the invisible side of HIV/AIDS, such as cases of sexual violence. Only tackling the surface level of the problem will result in a resurgence of new cases. Many women may be aware of the risks of HIV during unprotected sex, but without equity and rights over their bodies, they may not be able to enact any measures of protection. Giving women and disempowered persons a channel to ask for help, network, and gain information is an essential ingredient to meeting the 2030 Target.
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