AIDS 2008: the women and girls march

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, World YWCA General Secretary and Susan Brennan, World YWCA President at the 'AIDS 2008 Women and Girls' march in Mexico. August 4

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, World YWCA General Secretary and Susan Brennan, World YWCA President at the ‘AIDS 2008 Women and Girls’ march in Mexico. August5

World YWCA delegation march for women and girls at the AIDS 2008 march on August 4

World YWCA delegation march for women and girls at the AIDS 2008 march. Mexico City, August 5 2008

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, World YWCA General Secretary and Susan Brennan, World YWCA President at the 'AIDS 2008 Women and Girls' march in Mexico. August 4

Delegates to the XVII International AIDS Conference participate in a march to raise awareness of the gap between international commitments to ending the AIDS epidemic and the reality women and girls face in the context of HIV and AIDS. Mexico City, August 5, 2008

If I was in charge

Natalia Cales, YWCA USA

Natalia Cales, YWCA USA

Contributor: Natalia Cales

As the XVII International AIDS Conference (IAC) begins in Mexico City on August 3-8, thousands from around the world will be attending this monumental event. Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic more than 25 years ago, millions of people have been infected and affected. Today, the face of HIV is among young people, especially young women; throughout the world, young women are being infected with HIV.

As a young woman preparing to attend the IAC, I am looking forward to learning about solutions to this devastating issue. I am sure there will be many presenters to listen to and numerous workshops to attend. But, when the conference is over and everyone has returned home, will there be any “effective solutions” to conquering the HIV epidemic among us? Some may say that abstinence is the best solution, or increasing awareness and prevention strategies is more effective.

In my opinion, we need to examine why more females, who are heterosexual and committed to their partners, end up at the top of the list. Why have we become so vulnerable to HIV? Are we putting ourselves at risk in the “name of Love”? Is it the need or want for money that forces us to put ourselves at risk? Are we not aware of its impact or do we believe it “really can’t happen to us”? If you are living positively, does having “your voice heard” really matter? Or, are there adequate comprehensive prevention programs available to meet the needs of young women?

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AIDS 2008: women speak

The XVII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2008 ) will be held in Mexico City from August 3-8, 2008. With over 21,000 people expected to attend, AIDS 2008 is the largest and most important HIV and AIDS conference of the year. A few days before the conference opened, UNAIDS released a new report that shows HIV infection rates are decreasing. Welcome news, but the situation is still grim for women and girls who remain disproportionately vulnerable to HIV infection. In a statement in response to the report, the World YWCA welcomed the call for governments to scale-up gender equality and women’s empowerment as part of their HIV and AIDS response.

The World YWCA has sent a delegation to AIDS 2008 to advocate for women and girls. Several of the women attending the conference will contribute to this blog. Keep checking back to read personal reflections to the events, debates and outcomes of AIDS 2008.