You're receiving this newsletter because you subscribed to our newsletter.

Having trouble reading this? View it in your browser.

ICW Global In Action

June 2018

ICW Global Updates

Commentary: Why Strengthening Integration of Menstrual Health Hygiene into Sexual and Reproductive Health Is Important for Women and Girls


Menstruation is a topic that often solicits gory thoughts, of bloody messes, mood swings, hormonal episodes and for women brings varied levels of pain and discomfort.

It’s a topic that’s highly shunned within the society and where discussed shrouded in shame that has continued to impact negatively on how women and girls particularly young girls in school live their lives around their menses. We all know that this is a guaranteed experience for all women or reproductive age. We MUST therefore do our best to make it possible for all women to access the information and commodities needed to achieve menstrual health. The discourse for strengthening integration of Menstrual Health into SRHR interventions is long overdue.

The International Community of Women living with HIV (ICW) seeks to ensure that these conversations are all linked to represent the biological diversity in women and girls. It is indeed important to note that adolescents and young women, who are mostly affected by the HIV epidemic in terms of new HIV infections, vulnerability towards HIV infection and AIDS-related deaths are the same population that are challenged by the lack of information, safe spaces and commodities to attain desired menstrual hygiene and health. All this is in addition to the realities that young women are affected by economic challenges brought about by lack of education, poor working conditions and opportunities that continue to make them vulnerable to cross-generational sex, sexual exploitation, all in bid to cater for basic and yet essential needs such as menstrual hygiene.

This year the Menstrual Health and Hygiene day coincided with the International Day of Action for Women's Health, commemorated on 28 May each year. Let this year’s agenda for action for women’s health be on the lines of menstrual health and mainstreaming menstrual health management for women and girls within the sexual and reproductive health and rights scope.

Mainstreaming goes beyond initiating the conversation; must start from integration of policies to favour school-going adolescent girls to access menstrual health education, information and the necessary materials. Adolescent girls are in dire need for information to know how to manage their menses, while at the same time understand their biological changes at puberty, with girls living with HIV dealing with knowledge of their HIV statuses, the stigma around it and the stigma and shame that comes along with menstrual health.

It is time to change the narrative on menstrual health, with conversations on how the stigma can be eradicated, to demand creation for free sanitary kits for school-going girls, just the same way condoms, contraceptives, PrEP, PEP and other preventive interventions have been mainstreamed within the SRHR policy and programming.


Activity to Impact

Civil Society Convening on Hormonal Contraceptives

The International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) this month joined a CSO’s forum on Hormonal Contraceptives. The meeting was convened by ICW- Kenya with an aim to establish a link between Hormonal Contraceptives and the susceptibility to HIV infection in women. The forum, organized in partnership between AVAC and ICW Kenya shared with participants the study to interlink Hormonal contraception, specifically Depo-Provera (DMPA) and the risk of HIV infection among women and girls, (The ECHO trial) in which Kenya is one of the countries under the study. An ECHO trial is currently enrolling women in Kenya for a study to know more about how different contraceptive methods impact risk of HIV

The civil society forum’s main aim was to gather several perspectives that will be shared on-site as the ECHO trials dialogues commence, to identify through stakeholders and communities’ issues related to hormonal contraception and HIV. The convening also yielded some next steps and needs for continued advocacy.

Key messages recommended by the participants present included engaging young people in the entire process of the study, engaging them in information dissemination in case the study reveals the link to HIV infection and hormonal contraception, a provision of correct and concise information.

Participants at the CSO Convening, Nairobi, Kenya. Picture C/o Daisy Ouya

New Info Sheet: Make Your Voice Heard in Your Country’s Voluntary National Review of the SDGs

Do you know you can now make your voice heard for the review of the SDG’s?

Community participation in processes is essential in ensuring better outcomes in interventions tailored for the community. It gives a chance in collecting voices, opinion and perspectives from a first-hand point of view.

ICW has been involved within the processes of setting an agenda for the SDGs, in alignment to the global targets on ending AIDS, 90.90.90, with a guide for engagement of Networks of women living within HIV, which is highlighted here.

The Info sheet provides a chance in better engagement on the SDGs, and a broader view of what governments, partners and stakeholders, with you included can do to make the goals into a reality. You can read more on the countries and regions that are currently eligible for the Voluntary National Review of the SDGs here: You can also view and download the Info Sheet here:

Picture C/o

WHO Technical Consultation on HIV Testing, Prophylaxis and Treatment In Infants

The International Community of Women living with HIV was glad to share community perspectives on the WHO Technical Consultation on HIV Testing, Prophylaxis and Treatment in Infants. The meeting, convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland on 30th April -1st May 2018, was on a bid to gather input on early infant diagnosis, and how that can be enhanced and implemented to produce better outcomes.

ICW was represented in the meeting by our Communications Assistant and young women’s lead Laura Thuo, who in her presentation emphasised the need for community support initiatives to ensure women living with HIV have their infants tested, psychosocial initiatives to support adherence among pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, which in turn will provide better outcomes as shown in a report, Walking in our shoes: Perspectives of pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV on access to and retention in care in Malawi, Uganda and Zambia done in partnership between the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+) and ICW.

Menstrual Health and Hygiene, in a HIV Perspective

ICW is pleased to have been represented at the First East and Southern African Regional Menstrual Health Symposium from the 28th to 29th May 2018, Johannesburg South Africa, convened by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) East and Southern Africa Regional Office, in commemoration of Menstrual Hygiene Day, which is observed on 28th May each year. The symposium highlighted various needs of young women and girls in terms of menstrual health management and called for the need of mainstreaming of menstrual health for women and girls in institutions, as well as breaking the taboos and barriers associated with menstrual health conversations and interventions. The convening also featured conversations on sustainable menstrual hygiene products for girls in schools, such as Menstrual cups, Menstrual panties and reusable sanitary pads, which intend to be cost effective in providing sanitary solutions for menstrual health management.

ICW was featured in a panel, represented by Laura Thuo, presenting the perspectives of women and girls living with HIV and menstrual health management. Some of the key recommendations ICW highlighted in the panel include policies to ensure integration of Sanitary materials provided within school settings, integration within school programs to ensure adolescent girls have access to menstrual health education, and kits.While at the same time policies are reviewed to integrate menstrual health within the docket of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, there’s need to ensure that women and girls are engaged within the process and are empowered to contribute effectively to the process. It is important to note that the civil society has been able to influence changes within policy level and grassroots level on sexual and reproductive health, sexual and gender-based violence, HIV, and many other societal epidemics and challenges, then indeed they can influence changes within the spectrum of Menstrual Health and Hygiene.

Picture from:


The Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+) will host the People Living with HIV Networking Zone at the 22nd International AIDS Conference – Amsterdam 23-27 July 2018 Global Village

WHO recommendation: Elective C-section should not be routinely recommended to women living with HIV,

ICW Workshops and Events

22 JUL

The AIDS 2018 Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands is upcoming and ICW will be a great part of it! you can read our Women at AIDS 2018 Newsletter here

Workshops ICW will be attending and co-hosting at the AIDS 2018 Conference:

Upcoming Events, Links and Times for Global Action

16 JUN

International day of the African Child: First established by the Organization of the African Unity in 1991. The day aims at raising awareness for the situation of children in African, and on the need for continuing improvement in education.

22 JUL

22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 21-27 July 2018

The International AIDS Conference is the largest gathering on HIV and AIDS in the world. AIDS 2018 will bring together over 15,000 researchers, policy makers, advocates and global leaders from over 160 countries. Browse some of the scientific programme highlights and register today.

HIV Research for Prevention (HIVR4P)
Madrid, Spain, 22-25 October 2018

HIVR4P is a platform to advance information-sharing and experience-sharing among researchers working on HIV vaccines, microbicides, PrEP, treatment as prevention and other biomedical prevention approaches. Register now or submit a late-breaker abstract.

HIV Drug Therapy Glasgow, United Kingdom, 28-31 October 2018

The programme of the HIV Drug Therapy congress is of interest to clinical investigators from across the globe to review current research and to discuss the implications for HIV management strategies. Register now or submit an abstract.


The 2018 International Conference on Family Planning: The 5th ICFP will take place in Kigali, Rwanda, from November 12 to 15, 2018

Links to Consider:


Insert caption here

Meet the Staff


Souhaila Bensaid



Title/Position in Region

ICW Mena/Mena Rosa


Mena Region (North Africa and Middle East)

Who I Am

Souhaila was an active militant from 2007, where she was at first a volunteer activist and then appointed as the PLHIV program manager. In 2011, she co-founded the Facebook based International women movement Words of Women + as well as MENA based Women living with HIV regional network MENA ROSA and in turn became in 2011 MENA regional representative of ICW.

In 2014, Souhaila launched Tunisian NGO ATP+ (Tunisian Association of Positive Prevention), who is she the sous recipient of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, that she is still heading.

She describes herself as a natural born leader and activist. Souhaila shares her love of life and positive energy with people around her. ATP+ is about this, the molecule that gives energy and life. She understands from her experience that PLHIV’ rights, apart from declarations and documents, have yet to be concretized in the field. This is also true for LGBTQI, CSW, women and Young women, and children etc. As an activist, Souhaila is committed to continue the fight until all of those have full access to their rights. Souhaila is the member of ITPC Mena, and ICW Mena since 2012, since 2011, she represent all the population in CCM Tunisia and where she change the interior regalement for the representation of all population and not just People living with HIV.

ICW is important for us, because, it is our international network, which gives us the capacity in governance, access to rights and helps us to have information, to participate, share experience, to know the same problem in all the world, to give us energy, and opportunities!

You can help us amplify our impact and improve the lives of women and girls living with HIV

Not interested anymore? Unsubscribe from this list | Unsubscribe from all lists