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The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organisation operating in 39 countries, celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) – an occasion of advocacy and celebration by and for women and girls – with events all over the world, including Durban, last week.

IWD is formally observed each year on 8 March as a combined global holiday and campaign that promotes and commemorates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. IWD also brings governments, organisations and businesses together to spark change for gender equality through action advocacy.

Almost 18 million women over the age of 15 make up over half of all adults living with HIV, according to the World Health Organization, and women aged between 15-24 account for 60% of those infected in that age group. Additionally, HIV positive women in many countries are not afforded equal access to treatment and are often victims of discrimination and increased violence – including infringement of their sexual and reproductive rights.

AHF calls on decision makers, organisations and people everywhere to do their part to help narrow this gap and ensure that women have unimpeded access to lifesaving HIV testing, prevention services and treatment.

AHF co-hosted an event with info4africa, a centre within UKZN’s School of Applied Human Sciences and SA Voices HIV Museum at KwaMuhle Museum in Durban to commemorate IWD. The event brought together youth peer educators who have been trained to use the SAVY backpack – a resources and material filled backpack with education modules on HIV, TB and social change.

‘The past few months have seen a lot of social movements that have come to the forefront in the fight against sexual harassment and the misrepresentation of women in the workplace,’ said Regional Policy and Advocacy Manager for AHF in South Africa Ms Larissa Klazinga. ‘While such movements have made inroads into gender injustice, women are still far behind their male counterparts as seen when it comes to HIV infections. Women are still four times more prone to being infected with HIV than their male counterparts, and this is a conversation that as women and men we should be having.’

Said Director of info4africa Ms Debbie Heustice: ‘What we are aiming to do with the AHF and SA Voices Museum partnership is to empower women to equip themselves with accurate knowledge on HIV/AIDS to allow them to successfully use a condom every time they engage in sexual practices and to help others to do the same. If we do not do that, then who will do it for us?’

‘The world cannot go on talking about the end of AIDS while HIV remains one of the leading causes of death among women, especially among young women and girls in developing countries,’ said AHF Chief of Global Policy, Advocacy & Marketing, Ms Terri Ford.  ‘From the smallest community clinic, all the way to the national health programmes and at the international level, we must keep the promise to women by ensuring that they are empowered and able to access reproductive and health services, including HIV treatment, testing and prevention without long waiting times and without fear of intimidation and stigma.’

To view a selection of photos from last year’s IWD, please visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aidshealth/collections/72157677821369413/

  • AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organisation, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 872 000 clients in 39 countries worldwide. To learn more about AHF, visit the website: www.aidshealth.org, find them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow them on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare

For more information on AHF, visit either www.aidshealth.org or www.facebook.com/aidshealth.org

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