AIDS is the leading cause of death among women in Africa
The impact of HIV AIDS on gender is more pronounced in sub-Saharan Africa. Adolescent girls and young women (aged 15-24 years) in the region are three times more likely to contract HIV than boys and young men of the same age group, according to a new report by UNAIDS.
The effects of gender inequalities on women’s HIV risks are more evident in sub-Saharan Africa, where women accounted for 63 per cent of new HIV infections in 2021.
“Gender inequalities are blocking the end of the AIDS pandemic,” warned the report published November 29, 2022.
Also read: African children are neglected when it comes to HIV treatment: Lancet study
AIDS is the leading cause of death among women in Africa and the second-largest cause of death (after maternal mortality) among younger women (aged 15-29) in Africa, noted the report titled Dangerous inequalities: World AIDS Day report 2022.
Nearly 250,000 adolescent girls and young women contracted HIV in 2021 ― 82 per cent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.
New infections among adolescent girls and young women are declining at slower rates than in males of the same age.
In sub-Saharan Africa, new infections among adolescent girls and young women declined by 42 per cent between 2010 and 2021. The decline was nearly 56 per cent among males of the same age.
Also read: Global AIDS fight ‘in danger’ after setbacks due to COVID-19
The absolute number of young people aged 15 to 24 years in sub-Saharan Africa will increase to 350 million from 225 million between 2021 and 2040. This demands effective and efficient interventions to arrest the spread of disease.
In 19 high HIV-impacted countries in Africa, dedicated prevention programmes for adolescent girls and young women operate only in 40 per cent of regions with high HIV incidence.
The lack of policy reforms and investments within and beyond the health sector are making it difficult for adolescent girls and young women to access essential HIV services, the report noted.
More resources are needed to get AIDS response on the track, according to the Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026.
Domestic public expenditures for HIV impacts overall health expenditures. This is particularly applicable to sub-Saharan Africa, where spending on HIV accounts for 12 per cent of total government expenditure.
The report has also highlighted areas where the AIDS response has made remarkable progress. Three counties in Kenya have achieved higher HIV treatment coverage among female sex workers compared with other women. This was aided by implementing robust HIV programmes, including community-led services over many years.
“What world leaders need to do is crystal clear. In one word: Equalise. Equalise access to rights, equalise access to services, equalise access to the best science and medicine. Equalising will not only help the marginalised. It will help everyone,” said Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS executive director.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.