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Health Why Are Women Still Being Left Behind In The Fight Against HIV?

18:07  04 december  2017
18:07  04 december  2017 Source:   refinery29.com

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Why and how are women being so ignored in this fight ? Look at the number of places reserved for all others (including women ) on the PrEP Impact Trial: 2,000 out of Rescuing Cape Town's ' left behind ' children 02:45. Our response in the global fight against HIV /AIDS should be to lead, not surrender.

Why and how are women being so ignored in this fight ? Look at the number of places reserved for all others (including women ) on the PrEP Impact Stevenson feels that often women in the sexual care setting have to prove their risk and entitlement and that this is purely misogynistic and an outcome of

Across five London GUM clinics there has been a recent, startling drop of around 40% in the number of new cases of HIV infection; this has been described as remarkable, with Public Health England rightly stating that this is the first major downturn in the HIV epidemic among gay men in England.

And it is remarkable – it has taken around 30 years but finally, we have an effective method of reducing the numbers of people contracting HIV. The multi-pronged approach works; frequent testing, good adherence to medication, being undetectable, PEP and PrEP.

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Despite considerable advances made in the global response to the AIDS epidemic over the last several decades, young women and adolescent girls in Africa " are still being left behind ," according to a new joint report from the United Nations and the African Union.

This is despite both sexes having similar rates of infection (indeed, at 51% of the infected population, females carry a slightly higher burden of the disease). This inequality probably reflects both earlier diagnosis of women , whose HIV status is checked routinely at antenatal clinics, and a more

The only jarring thing about this drop is that, principally, it is being seen in young (25 to 34-year-old), white, gay men. Not jarring because young, white, gay men shouldn't get all the support that they are, and that they need – we know from all the data available that HIV has disproportionately impacted the gay community more than any other in this country – but jarring because rates of infection have remained static in all other groups, including women and heterosexual men.

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On many levels it feels sacrilegious not to focus simply on celebrating the lives being saved. I do celebrate those saved lives, but the success doesn't feel connected to the intersectional space in which I, and many others, exist. I took my risks in many different spaces, including casual s*x and the foolish innocence of love. Twenty-five years on I understand my risk-taking and feel confident enough not to be ashamed of it or shamed by it.

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Young women and adolescent girls acquire HIV on average five to seven years earlier than young men, and in some countries in the region, HIV prevalence among this population can be as much as seven times that of their male counterparts. " In the absence of a vaccine, ending gender-based violence

Women ’s Economic Development Club. The reality is alarming—as global HIV -related deaths have declined among children and adults, adolescent deaths have increased. Many young people are not accessing the services they need because youth-friendly HIV services are not widely available.

We live in a society that is structurally and systemically sexist and racist, so young white men are without doubt at the front of every queue that exists, be that in FTSE companies, wages, political structures...the list goes on. Thus reading that young white men have been the first to benefit from our improved HIV strategy won't surprise anyone. Privilege works by birth so it isn't anything that this group of young white men are actively doing, and it's really tough to highlight because there is no privilege that comes with an HIV diagnosis. Young, white, gay men are certainly not to blame – I doubt anyone is – but we cannot ignore the lack of improvement in the rates of women being diagnosed with HIV.

Why and how are women being so ignored in this fight? Look at the number of places reserved for all others (including women) on the PrEP Impact Trial: 2,000 out of 10,000. If 25% of all new HIV infections last year were women, why would there not be 2,500 places reserved on the trial specifically for women? Why has there been very little promotion of the PrEP trial among women, to increase identification of PrEP as a really effective way of preventing HIV transmission? Women, we are starting to find, have seldom even heard of PrEP; they have no concept that it exists.

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But there is still no cure. Despite progress in the fight against HIV /AIDS, the virus continues to spread, infecting, at least 37 million people In many places, testing HIV -positive is still akin to a death sentence. A lack of affordable treatment and misinformation about the disease and how it is

Indonesia is in the middle of an anti -LGBTQ panic. Religious fundamentalists are trying to convince the courts to outlaw same-sex relationships. The country was warned in a 2014 UN report that it was being " left behind " in the global fight against HIV /AIDS. Health officials rushed to intensify efforts to

I recently gave a talk at Oxford University's Wadham College around risk and historically marginalised groups, and we started to talk about prevention and then PrEP. I asked the room for a show of hands as to who knew about PrEP – the only hands that went up were those of the gay men present. It's great that they knew, but no woman put her hand up and when questioned, not a single woman had heard about PrEP, or PEP. Only sexism can explain why women who say they know they take risks – which is their right – do not know that there is a simple way to protect themselves from HIV.

Why does the notion still swirl around that women don't take risks when it comes to s*x and love? Love, the space in which we all throw caution to the wind and say yes, I trust you.

Why do we still act as if this 'risk space' only houses men, specifically young gay men? How dare we still label gay men as inherent risk takers and label women as only victims of sex if they test positive for HIV?

I asked Dr. Shema Tariq why she felt the numbers of women still contracting HIV had remained almost static for years.

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There were times when the battle against HIV /AIDS looked dark indeed. But the many health professionals One of the most important cogs in the anti -AIDS machine, in addition to The Global Fund, is a U.S It has delivered HIV testing and counseling to more than 14 million pregnant women .

But for women and young girls, the news is still grim. Sidibé says it's time to stop tackling HIV and AIDS as an isolated problem. Instead, the fight against the epidemic needs to tackle the larger gender issues at play: violence against women , keeping young girls in school, and the economic hardships

'Poor research and an assumption that women don't know about their risks or how to protect themselves, sexism and misogyny still drives so much of what we do. Women have seldom been the principle targets of prevention campaigns. Women have really only been focused on in relation to HIV through pregnancy and then they are not the focus, the wellbeing of the baby is. We understand how that happens but the mother is often placed outside of the equation with hardly any time to come to terms with their own diagnosis. Historically most women find out they are positive through pregnancy screening.'

This is backed up when I have the opportunity to speak with a young British-born Muslim woman who is of Caribbean parentage, who told me in almost hushed tones that whenever people talk about 'at risk groups' they talk only of Africans. She feels silenced by her absence in the debate. She has been isolated and often alone since being diagnosed through her pregnancy screening.

'They told me the baby was the only thing to worry about, they treated me terribly throughout my pregnancy, made me feel guilty and because I was British born made me feel that somehow I should have known better. I felt blamed and shamed and it's taken me years to build up my confidence around my HIV status.'

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It is a sad fact that this vulnerable group is being left behind . While in Malawi, Lynne Featherstone visited a health centre which is preventing the transmission of HIV from mothers to children as well a support centre for victims of violence against women – a major contributing factor to HIV infection.

But HIV and AIDS are still with us. They continue to disproportionately impact communities of color, transgender people, young people and gay and bisexual men. There are still 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States today, with about 50,000 people newly diagnosed each year.

Jacqui Stevenson, who is currently researching ageing women living with HIV, agreed with Shema that poor research is often the gateway to women being left out of new interventions, and the myths surrounding women as poor research subjects have become structural and systemic through the years and this has resulted in an invisibility. Stevenson is one of the co leads on the Invisible No Longer study which looks at the experiences of women living with and at risk of HIV, it seeks to provide qualitative information about the lives and experiences of these frequently ignored groups.

Stevenson feels that often women in the sexual care setting have to prove their risk and entitlement and that this is purely misogynistic and an outcome of the ludicrous notion that only men have pleasure and therefore deserve protection and only women 'at risk' (frequently s*x workers are mentioned here despite seemingly showing little interest in PrEP) need prevention.

Dr Andy Williams and Dr Rageshri Dhairyawan, both sexual health and HIV specialists based at the London Hospital, expressed real worries that there are some groups already being left behind and that as the cuts really sink in, perhaps driven by the effectiveness of our new interventions (PrEP etc) that these groups will get left further and further behind.

'I had a patient who was so scared to continue with HIV care because of the punitive immigration atmosphere that they stopped treatment; a few months later they died.' Dr Rageshri is visibly upset recounting this story.

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risk for HIV -- to talk about HIV stigma. Related: Why the U.S. South Still Has Such High HIV Rates. "These philanthropic initiatives [like Gilead's in the South] stem from the fact that these companies are making money hand over fist due to drug pricing being so exorbitant in the first place," says Tim Horn

TB is usually curable with pills. If untreated, it can accelerate HIV 's progress in the body and can be fatal. "Governments need to get their heads out of the Improvements in treatment allow more people with HIV to live longer. And fewer young people are contracting HIV , in part because they're becoming

I asked them both what it was like working in an environment where you know the 'hard to reach' are becoming more isolated.

'Sometimes', said Andy, 'young clinicians starting out on their careers come here and meet patients, often from the South Asian community with a completely different view of sex and risk, already in a catastrophic situation, and the young doctors after a short time cannot cope, finding easy success here is tough. We know we have many more community links to build through the mosques etc and we know while we are doing this real lives are suffering. Women, often women who may not speak the language, are often most at risk.'

I got the sense talking to them that although they absolutely celebrated the brilliant work being done in reducing numbers of new HIV infections, that those improvements felt a million miles away from the quite bleak corridors of the old London Hospital.

On this World Aids Day let's try and remember that women have and enjoy sex, and that means they sometimes encounter risk. And, secondly, that not all transmission is through sex; some people, a few admittedly, are born with HIV. Let's think about their beautiful bravery this year. Both those living with HIV, those at risk from HIV, and those working in some of the toughest environments right here in our big sprawling city.

Note:A few days after the Wadham talk I was contacted by the Women's SU lead to say how appalled they were at the lack of sexual health promotion directed at women so they have decided to 'skill up' so that they can effectively campaign and lobby for inclusion in the story of PrEP.

Related: How Close Are We to Curing HIV/AIDS? (Provided by Seeker)

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