A study in South Africa showed that HIV prevalence among girls who had finished high school was about half that among girls who had not (8.6% versus 16.9%). Children who access universal primary education in Botswana, Malawi and Uganda have been shown to have similar outcomes.
GIRLS HIV/AIDS WOMEN'S DAY
Globally, 350 adolescent girls succumb to AIDS-related illnesses weekly, while 460 get infected with HIV.
The disclosure was made in a communiqué from United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in observance of the international women’s day, urging countries to step up and protect young women and adolescent girls from HIV.
AIDS-related illnesses remain the leading cause of death for women aged 15–49 years globally. In 2017, 66% of new HIV infections among 10–19-year-olds were among females globally—in eastern and southern Africa, 79% of new HIV infections among 10–19-year-olds were among females.
“There is a vicious cycle of gender inequities, gender-based violence and HIV infection in many parts of the world,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS.
“Oppression and power imbalances must be reversed and harmful masculinities addressed in order to ensure that women and girls have full control over their sexual health and rights,” she added.
Much more needs to be done to reach young people with HIV prevention, treatment and care. Young women and adolescent girls are especially being left behind. Gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and drug use are among the many factors that can increase the vulnerability of young women and adolescent girls to HIV.
According to the communiqué, efforts to end AIDS are undermined where the human rights of young women and adolescent girls—especially their sexual and reproductive health and rights—are not supported.
“Countries must therefore enact laws and policies that enable access to services, including health and social protection, by young women and adolescent girls, helping them to claim their right to health,” it read.
The communiqué further pointed out that international law gives people, including young women and adolescent girls, the right to access services to protect their sexual and reproductive health. However, 45 countries worldwide still have laws that require people under the age of 18 years to obtain the consent of their parents in order to be tested for HIV.
“Social protection, education—including comprehensive sexuality education—and HIV prevention services that are integrated with sexual and reproductive health services have been shown to improve the health of, and empower, young women and adolescent girls,” reads the communiqué.
What’s more, a South African study showed that HIV prevalence among girls who had finished high school was about half that among girls who had not (8.6% versus 16.9%). Children who access universal primary education in Botswana, Malawi and Uganda have been shown to have similar outcomes.
“Investing in education, HIV and other health services, preventing and protecting women and girls from violence, eradicating harmful practices such as early, forced and child marriage, promoting women’s rights will protect women and girls.