Needed- Female-Specific Medical Research To Prevent AIDS

New York, November 21st 2011 – Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA) demands to reduce the burden of the epidemic among women worldwide 

On the occasion of World AIDS Day 2011 on December 1st Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA) wants to draw attention to the fact that women worldwide constitute more than half of all people living with HIV/AIDS. For women in their reproductive years HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death and disease. In every region of the world, more adult women than ever before are now living with HIV.
As medical women doctors and members of the oldest international medical association worldwide we are deeply convinced that promoting research on prevention and also on education are the most effective tools in preventing HIV infections.

MWIA President, Dr.  Afua Hesse (Ghana) states: It is now 30 years since the first article on HIV/AIDS was published. Initially it was thought that the disease belonged to intravenous drug users and gay men. However, it is now a disease where most new cases are women who have been given the disease by heterosexual transmission.  67% of the disease burden is in Sub-Saharan Africa, where women outnumber men in new cases.”

Gender inequalities are a key driver of the epidemic as well as physical, sexual and emotional violence against women which additionally increases the vulnerability to HIV.

Dr. Waltraud Diekhaus (Germany), Vice-President of Central Europe, states: “Nowhere is the impact of gender and health more relevant than in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  Gender and health consists of biology, cultural behaviours and norms, and power relations between men and women. Prevention in women is difficult due to their anatomy making them more prone to infection and their
power relations in that women are often not in control of sexual practices, making it difficult to negotiate safer sex with the use of condoms.”

Most success has been in the decrease of maternal to child transmission during pregnancy and delivery. It is a shame to lose the value of this success by having women succumbs to HIV/AIDS once they are sexually active.

Dr. Shelley Ross (Canada), Secretary General of MWIA states: “In addition to the knowledge that using microbicide gels containing antiviral medications decreases transmission of HIV, the use of prophylactic anti-retroviral medication in the unaffected partners of infected individuals has been shown effective in preventing transmission. Also the lack of a “woman controlled” method of HIV prevention after 30 years of HIV AIDS research should be a catalyst to make this a priority for HIV prevention research both nationally and internationally. Most of the funded research is on treatment not prevention. Both the female condom and vaginal virucide have not been effective.”

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