“16 Days of Activism: Combatting Gender-based Violence is Essential for HIV Response“

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16 Days of Activism: Combatting Gender-based Violence is Essential for HIV Response

KAMPALA, Uganda–(BUSINESS WIRE/AETOSWire)– For this year’s 16 Days of Activism, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Africa Bureau urges collective action to turn the tide on gender-based violence (GBV) – especially violence against women and girls – which is essential for reducing new HIV infection rates and promoting retention in care and treatment among this demographic. This timely call-to-action mirrors the campaign’s 2022 global theme: “UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls.”

The 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence is an annual global campaign, which runs from November 25 to December 10, to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of GBV, confront discriminatory gender norms, and advocate for better policies and interventions toward eliminating violence against women and girls. A recent joint policy paper by the African Union and UN Women reveals that an estimated one-in-three women will experience violence in their lifetimes. Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries with reporting systems saw a 25% upsurge in cases of violence against women. Furthermore, between 2019 and 2020, 18% of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 worldwide experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former partner.

“These staggering numbers are an indication that governments, communities, and societies must urgently address the different forms of gender-based violence that continue to rob women and girls of the opportunity of living a healthy and fulfilling life,” said Oluwakemi Gbadamosi, AHF Africa, Director for Advocacy, Policy and Marketing. “We know there is a solid correlation between GBV and HIV, and for women and girls living with HIV, the risk of violence increases, which impacts their ability to access services and remain in care, while many more face violations of their rights to Sexual and Reproductive Health services or Comprehensive Sexuality Education.”

According to a UNAIDS report, violence prevents women from accessing lifesaving services, negotiating condom use, disclosing their HIV status, and achieving better treatment outcomes. Additionally, intimate partner violence puts women at a 50% greater risk of contracting HIV – particularly in countries with high HIV prevalence.

This year, AHF Africa country programs hosted and participated in diverse commemorative events to highlight the need for a more strategic focus in addressing the linkage between GBV, gender inequalities, and HIV.

“It is evident that to turn the tide on GBV and HIV – we need to do things differently, such as integrating GBV and HIV prevention services, building the capacity of relevant agencies and health care workers to better support victims of violence and ensure the availability and accessibility to post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). It’s also vital to empower girls and boys with the tools and information to challenge discriminatory and harmful norms, promote access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education, and champion policies that safeguard the Sexual Reproductive Health rights of women and girls.” These are just some of the interventions the AIDS Healthcare Foundation promotes through its popular and empowering Girls Act program.

About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)

AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.6 million people in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare.

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