Prioritizing HIV Prevention, Treatment Among Women In Sub-Saharan Africa Critical To Controlling AIDS Epidemic

Washington Post: Why Africa’s HIV crisis continues to devastate young women
Michael Gerson, opinion writer

“…High rates of HIV infection among young women [in sub-Saharan Africa] are a medical crisis for which there is no purely medical answer. Norms need to be changed. The empowerment of young women has become an essential health priority. … There is now significant focus and funding dedicated to this issue from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The U.S. global AIDS coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, has announced an initiative called DREAMS, designed to dramatically reduce new HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women in high-burden ‘hot spots’ in 10 African countries. … The theory: Surround them with support and services in every part of their lives. HIV testing and counseling. Contraceptive information and access. One-stop facilities to report gender-based violence and receive care. Financial literacy programs. Educational subsidies. Outreach to religious and traditional leaders. Outreach to young men to challenge destructive gender norms and attitudes … If this model proves effective, it will need to be quickly brought to scale. Sexism, it turns out, is not only unfair but also unhealthy. To stop an epidemic, young women … must no longer feel alone” (4/21).