Violence and Discrimination Against Girls Fueling AIDS Crisis in Africa

A leading human rights organization asserts that violence and discrimination against women and girls is fueling Africa’s AIDS crisis. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the human rights abuses that women and girls suffer at various stages in their lives increases their risk to be infected with HIV/AIDS. “The protection of the rights of women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa is a key to turning around the continents AIDS crisis,” reports Human Rights Watch.

The report examines several ways that girls suffer abuse, including abuse in and out of school, in long-term relationships, and during civil war. HRW argues that African governments are not doing enough to protect women and girls from such abuses that are fueling the AIDS epidemic. Women represent nearly 60 percent of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, HRW is calling on all governments to make gender equality a central part of national AIDS programs.

A few days before World AIDS Day, a new report issued by the issued by the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that more than 40 million people are infected with HIV and 3 million died of AIDS this year. According to the report, international response to the epidemic is inadequate for the scope of the problem, which disproportionately affects women and children, reports Reuters.

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Human Rights Watch 11/25/03; Reuters 12/1/03; UN Wire 11/26/03; UN/WHO Report 11/2003

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