Latin American and Caribbean leaders met Friday in Mexico at the 1st Meeting of Ministers of Education and Health to address HIV/AIDS. Attendees signed a historic declaration pledging to provide comprehensive sex education in Latin American and Caribbean curricula to combat HIV, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
In the Caribbean young women are 2.5 times more likely to be infected with HIV then young men. The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) reports that the HIV/AIDS epidemic affects 17 million women ages 15 to 45 worldwide; 77 percent of which live in sub-Saharan Africa. Women’s secondary social status prevents millions from protecting themselves against HIV. Biological factors also play a large role in women’s greater susceptibility to the virus. In the United States, AIDS is the leading cause of death among African American and Hispanic women. Global HIV/AIDS programs’ failure to focus on the specific needs of women contributes to the devastating effect HIV/AIDS has on them globally.
The XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City began yesterday. The conference serves as a global forum about the prevention and treatment of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.