General / Health / Weekend News

Empowering women will help end HIV epidemic says UNAIDS Executive Director

By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter

Michel Sidibé, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme/AIDs worldwide.

Sidibé, in an article published, highlighted that in countries the world over, circumstances are putting women and girls at greater risk of HIV infection than their male counterparts.

Those issues included gender inequalities, poverty, harmful cultural practices and unequal power relations that exacerbate women’s vulnerability to HIV. But concerted global commitment and action can reverse this.

“Ensuring that women and girls are empowered to protect themselves from HIV, to make decisions about their own health and to live free of violence, including violence related to their HIV status, will be crucial to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” Sidibé said.

He highlighted UNAIDS data showing that in 2013, 64 percent of new adolescent infections globally were among young women. In sub-Saharan Africa, young women aged 15 to 24 are almost twice as likely to become infected with HIV as their male counterparts.

Data from the National AIDS commission revealed that in 2013 there were 241 new infections in Belize, and the main group affected was from age 15 and up. 15-19 for women.

In Belize, health authorities have cited that more women have been accessing HIV testing services than men. However the disconnect pairs an slanted picture in terms of the infection ratios within the country.

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