Women's Day Theme...
As we mark this year's International Women's Day, we look at the
devastating toll the global HIV/AIDS epidemic is taking on women, and
the critical role of women in fighting AIDS.
The global AIDS epidemic crossed a significant threshold in 2003 when,
for the first time, according to new statistics, half of those living
with HIV were women.
Estimated number of adults and children living with HIV/AIDS in
Bangladesh, end of 2001
These estimates include all people with HIV infection, whether or
not they have developed symptoms of AIDS, alive at the end of 2001:
Adults and children
Adult rate (%)
At the outset of the epidemic in the 1980s, women were
considered marginally at risk from a virus that seemed to be confined to
men who have sex with men, sex workers and intravenous drug users. Now,
HIV has infected tens of millions, many of them women who contracted it
from their husbands or partners. AIDS has become the worst pandemic in
human history – one from which no one is immune, regardless of gender,
race, class or sexual orientation.
Young people are especially at risk, and particularly
young women who in many countries have limited access to information and
public health services.Young women and girls are less likely to be
educated than young men and more prone to coercion and violence in
sexual relationships. Because of their unequal status, women and girls
have unequal access to prevention, treatment and care programmes. In
some countries with limited resources, treatment may be reserved for
certain "priority groups" such as the military or civil servants.
More than a health crisis, HIV/AIDS is a global
development challenge. Discriminatory property and inheritance rights,
and unequal access to education, public services, income opportunities
and health care, as well as ingrained violence, render women and girls
particularly vulnerable to HIV infection. Women living with HIV/AIDS
suffer the additional burdens of stigma, discrimination and
In recognition of the devastating impact AIDS has on
women today, the UN Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality
decided that International Women’s Day, observed annually on 8 March,
would in 2004 focus on women and HIV/AIDS.
Global Coalition on Women and AIDS
The Coalition identified seven key areas for action,
reducing violence against
protecting the property and
inheritance rights of women and girls;
ensuring women’s and girls’
equal access to care and treatment;
community-based care with special focus on women and girls;
promoting access to prevention
options for women, including microbicides and female
supporting ongoing efforts
towards universal education for girls.