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UNAIDS-sponsored group to talk about HIV in four US cities

UNAIDS-sponsored group to talk about HIV in four US cities

The Global Coalition on Women and AIDS, a group founded by the United Nations system’s anti-HIV/AIDS programme, will visit four United States cities, starting tomorrow, to raise public awareness about the unique challenges facing women and girls in a world with the disease.

“Empowering women and girls is key to turning the tide of AIDS,” the Executive Director of the Joint UN programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr. Peter Piot, said. “As we design and evaluate AIDS programmes, we must always ask: does this work for women and girls? Unless the answer to that is yes, we cannot expect to succeed in the global response to AIDS.”

The second Empower Women: Fight AIDS goes to Detroit, Michigan (8-9 June), Houston, Texas, (10-12 June), Minneapolis, Minnesota, (13-14 June) and ends in Washington, DC, on 15 June. It takes place at a time when AIDS is the leading cause of death for African-American women between 25 and 34 years old and is increasingly affecting Latino women across the country, the coalition said.

Last year tour members spoke at town hall meetings and community forums in New York City, Nashville, Miami, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

“Women are uniquely vulnerable to contracting HIV due to a lack of power in preventing violence, accessing education, gaining economic self-sufficiency and receiving information about HIV prevention and legal rights,” the coalition said. “Women and girls also face barriers to accessing treatment and bear a disproportionate burden of care for those living with and affected by HIV.”

Launched in 2004 by UNAIDS in response to the growing feminization of AIDS, the coalition is a broad-based alliance of community organizations, networks of women living with HIV, and UN agencies, supported by activists, political leaders and celebrities.

The women leaders on the tour include Kathleen Cravero, coalition Leadership Council chair and Assistant Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP); Mary Fisher, UNAIDS Special Representative and founder of the Mary Fisher CARE Fund; Idah Mukuka from the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia; Celina D’Costa from Project Concern International in India; and Devorah Elizabeth Davis Zelaya from the Association of People Living with HIV in Honduras.

Each of the women has both a compelling personal story to tell and a track record of working for women on the front lines against AIDS in their home communities and countries, the coalition said.