Women, and particularly young women, are at the center of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Gender inequality put them there. The International AIDS Conference is in Washington, D.C., in two weeks, and that’s our chance to tell the people in charge to fix it.
The facts: Worldwide, young women age 15-24 become infected with HIV at twice the rate of their male counterparts. Young women in Sub-Saharan now account for more 72 percent of new HIV infections among people age 15-24. A study in South Africa suggested that one in seven cases of young women acquiring HIV could have been prevented if the women had not been subjected to intimate partner violence.
The problem: Women continue to be neglected by HIV programs. Only 46 percent of countries allocate resources funds from their national response to HIV for the needs of women and girls.
Sec. Hillary Clinton said in November that we can create an AIDS-free generation. After reading the facts above, it’s pretty clear we can’t do that without women’s rights. Something needs to change.
Here’s what we can do right now: Let the world know that women not only matter, but that they can’t beat AIDS without us. Between now and the conference, change your Facebook cover photo, and sign the Women’s Declaration. Demand that world leaders pay attention to us.