With Women Worldwide- A Compact to end HIV/AIDS

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February 2006

Sexual and reproductive rights are a pivotal neglected priority in HIV/AIDS policy, programming, and resource allocation. Failure to protect girls’ and women’s rights including their right to health and their right to live free of sexual coercion and violence fuels the pandemic. Universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and education, and protection of sexual and reproductive rights, are essential to ending it.

It is widely acknowledged that rates of HIV infection are increasing in women of every region in the world and that these rates are often higher for girls and women than for men. Women, especially young women and girls, are vulnerable because of denial and neglect of their rights, gender inequality, social, cultural and economic factors, pervasive violence, and biology.

Girls’ and women’s empowerment must be at the centre of a multi-sectoral response to the global pandemic. Regarding sexual and reproductive rights and health in particular, we call on HIV/AIDS decision makers at all levels to:

1. Redefine “High Risk”: Recognize that women, especially young women and girls, are at serious risk, and that all women have the right to have access to confidential VCT, treatment, care and support as part of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services.

2. Expand Decision-making: Ensure that women infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, and women’s health and rights advocates, are full participants in decision making, especially at the highest levels, so that decisions reflect the realities and needs of women.

3. Exercise Leadership: Prioritize in words and concrete actions reducing the risk and the burden of HIV/AIDS for women and girls, through protection of their sexual and reproductive rights and health, including the promotion of policies and laws against discrimination and sexual violence.

4. Invest HIV targeted funds: Allocate and monitor the use of significant HIV/AIDS resources for health services and education that protect and empower women and girls, including:

  • Comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services accessible to all women with capacity to deliver HIV/AIDS and other STI prevention, counseling, testing, care, and treatment (or referral) services;
  • Universal access to subsidized female condoms as well as male condoms, and development and dissemination of microbicides and other women-initiated, prevention technologies;
  • Comprehensive sexuality education that promotes sexual and reproductive rights, gender equality and skills development, as well as full and accurate information, for all children and youth in and out of school.

5. Strengthen HIV/AIDS programs: Protect all women’s health and rights through HIV/AIDS programs:

  • Ensure women’s access to confidential, VCT, including support for the choice not to be tested; provide protection from violence, stigma, and discrimination that may result from disclosure of status;
  • Ensure equitable, sustained access to treatment for AIDS and opportunistic infections for all women and girls, appropriate to their age, health and nutritional status, with full protection of their human rights including their sexual and reproductive rights; increase research on and development of appropriate treatment for various ages; and track access to treatment by age, sex, and continuity of care;
  • Increase and utilize funds earmarked for care and support to reduce women’s disproportionate burden of care;

The 2006 review of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS is a key opportunity for the international community to incorporate this action agenda for women and girls as we work to achieve the goal of universal access to prevention, treatment and care.

Supporting organizations:Gestos (Brazil), Girl’s Power Initiative (Nigeria), DAWN, African Women's Development Fund, Center for Global Women’s Leadership, Latin America and the Caribbean Women’s Health Network LACWHN, International Community of Women Living with AIDS (ICW), The Swedish Association for Sex Education (RFSU), Mujer y Salud en Uruguay MYSU, Foundation for Study and Investigation on Women FEIM (Argentina), Rutgers Nisso Groep (Netherlands), Women for Women's Rights - New Ways (Turkey), Federation for Women and Family Planning, (Poland), JOICP (Japan), Choice for Youth and Sexuality (Netherlands), Thai Women & HIV/AIDS Task Force, Women in Development Europe (WIDE), International Women’s Health Coalition.

Contributors: Adrienne Germain, Alessandra Nilo, Aziza Ahmed, Bene Madunagu, Beri Hull, Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, Charlotte Bunch, Gloria Careaga Perez, Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga, Gabrielle Henderson, Françoise Girard, Jessica Horn, Joan Dunlop, Johanna Hanefeld, Katarina Lindahl, Kim Dickson, Lilian Abracinskas, Mabel Bianco, Monruedee Laphimon, Nirvana González Rosa, Pinar Ilkkaracan, Sofia Gruskin, Thirza Bronner, Wanda Nowicka, Wendy Harcourt, and Zonibel Woods.

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