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Uniting against violence and HIV

in UNITED STATES, 16/03/2014

Studies have shown that intimate partner violence can increase the risk of HIV infection by around 50% and that one in three women experience violence by their intimate partner during their lifetime. There is also evidence that violence, or the fear of violence undermines access to treatment, care and support services for women living with HIV.

In efforts to address the complex linkages between violence and HIV, in a statement, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the world to do more, “We must take action to end violence against women and girls and ensure that they have the sexual and reproductive health and rights that they deserve. Violence has a drastic impact on the health of women and children and is inextricably linked to a higher prevalence of HIV. That is why I have made ending violence against women and girls a top priority for the United Nations.”

The Secretary-General’s call was amplified at the high-level panel Linking HIV, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights as part of the Every Women Every Child initiative, and the post-2015 social justice agenda organized by UNAIDS during the 58th Commission on the Status of Women held in New York. “Not only is violence against women an extreme human rights violation, it also makes women more vulnerable to HIV infection,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Post-2015 is the opportunity to ensure all women and girls reach their full potential, without the threat of violence or risk of HIV infection.”

The event, chaired jointly by Mr Sidibé and the Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, encouraged dialogue around the critical need for women-centred efforts to end the AIDS epidemic; the advancement of sexual and reproductive health and rights for women; gender equality and women’s empowerment; and zero tolerance for gender-based violence. “The single most important strategy in dealing with HIV is empowering women and protecting their rights,” said Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka.

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