Today is World AIDS Day and the 7th day of the 16 days of activism campaign. The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is “Know Your Status.” UNAIDS encourages everyone to know their status so that people living with HIV are linked to quality care and prevention services so they can lead healthy and productive lives. Unfortunately, stigma and discrimination remain barriers for people who need to know their status, especially women and girls. UNAIDS 2016-2021 strategy includes eight result areas including, “Women and men practice and promote healthy gender norms and work together to end gender-based, sexual, and intimate partner violence to mitigate risk and impact of HIV.” For more information on HIV, AIDS, and women, visit: https://www.womenshealth.gov/hiv-and-aids/women-and-hiv/violence-against-women-and-hiv-risk and http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/violence/hiv/en/
World AIDS day is an important day in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign because violence against women is both a cause and consequence of HIV and AIDS. Women and girls often lack power in their relationships, families, and communities and as a result, they are more vulnerable to violence and more vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. For many women, the violence they experience leads to HIV infection. For others, their HIV positive status brings violence, which can speed the onset of AIDS. Violence against women, HIV, and AIDS are closely connected.
Below are some examples of how our grantee partners are contributing!
m2m Malawi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJB-2IfT6dI
Femia’s Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kllY2QWyRVs&t=4s
Chancey’s Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZtLpmoP58U&t=19s
Phiona Ayebazibwe, 33, is a mother of one living in Karujanga village in Katuna town council, Kabale district, Uganda. Phiona has HIV.
In 2016, Phiona’s weight dropped dramatically to just 52kg (115lbs). Her t-cell (or CD4 cell) count, the marker of how well a person’s immune system is functioning, dropped too. A healthy t-cell count can range from 500 to 1500; in a person living with HIV, 500 is considered pretty good. At a t-cell count of 200, a person is at risk of serious illness. Phiona’s t-cell count was 320. With her worsening health, Phiona lost her usual energy and strength, directly impacting her ability to farm, her main economic activity and of course her only access to food. Phiona’s baseline nutrition hadn’t been adequate, which impacted her health and, perversely, her ability to get food, capturing her in a cycle of worsening nutrition.