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Released date: 15-Jul-2016
This guide provides an introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the perspective of networks women living with HIV and builds on a series of workshops held by the ICW Global Office with our partner networks Namibia Women’s Health Network in Windhoek, Namibia, ICW Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS in Lviv, Ukraine and ICW Mozambique in Maputo. These workshops were designed to introduce networks of women living with HIV to the Sustainable Development Goals and to engage the networks in advocacy to ensure that the voices of women living with HIV are heard in the country-level implementation of the SDGs.
Released date: 09-Jun-2016
In light of the 2016 High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, the ICW Chapter for Young Women, Adolescents, and Girls (CYWAG) and the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) emphasize the need to place young women and girls living with HIV at the center of all strategies and responses to ending the epidemic. In particular, the full human rights of young women and girls living with HIV must be realized, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)!
As we know, gender inequality continues to play a huge role in increasing young women and girls’ vulnerability to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The current context of HIV clearly illustrates how the virus disproportionately affects young women and girls, where:
- Every minute a young woman is infected with HIV;1
- Young women and girls make up 64% of all new infections among young people;2
- HIV is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age;3
- Less than 30% of young women and girls around the globe have correct and comprehensive knowledge on HIV.4
SRHR are central in promoting gender equality, ensuring comprehensive HIV treatment, and preventing new HIV infections; all key factors in achieving social justice, women’s and girls’ empowerment, and sustainable development. As such, any approach intended to fast-track the HIV and AIDS response and end related stigma and discrimination must ensure SRHR for all.
When a holistic approach to SRHR is implemented, including the provision of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and youth-friendly services, young people are equipped with the tools and information they need to exercise meaningful and informed decision-making power in relation to their sexual and reproductive health, thereby enabling the attainment of a whole range of other rights. Yet because of ongoing gender inequality as well as socio-cultural norms and taboos, young women and girls worldwide face considerable challenges in exercising their SRHR, particularly if they are living with HIV.
When trying to access sexual and reproductive health information and services, young women and girls living with HIV are often multiply marginalized, as a result of their age, gender, economic situation, and HIV status. As such, they are often at high risk of experiencing violations of their sexual and reproductive rights,5 such as discriminatory and humiliating treatment; breaches of consent and confidentiality; physical and emotional violence and abuse; and denial of services.6 In some cases, young women and girls living with HIV are subjected to forced or coerced sterilization and abortion7, amounting to cruel and inhumane treatment and torture, as recognized by international and regional human rights bodies.8
When the SRHR of young women and girls is unmet, their ability to manage their HIV care and overall health outcomes is impeded, thus hindering their wellbeing, as well as efforts to strengthen HIV prevention and eradicate related stigma and discrimination. As importantly, the neglect and denial of the SRHR of young women and girls living with HIV is tantamount to violating their fundamental human rights and freedoms.9 For as affirmed by States worldwide through the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the human rights of women include the right for all women to “have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.”
With this in mind, when implementing HIV/AIDS related strategies and in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we urge governments to:
- Reaffirm the right of young women and girls living with HIV to choose who to love and be intimate with, as well as to choose if and when to be sexually active, free from coercion, discrimination and violence;
- Meaningfully integrate HIV and SRHR programming and services, to ensure the health, rights and wellbeing of all young women and girls in all their diversity;
- Facilitate universal access to CSE which is gender-sensitive, evidence and rights-based, and provided via a holistic and positive approach;
- Ensure universal access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, including a full range of voluntary and high-quality contraceptives, as well as access to safe, legal and affordable abortion services, free of marital and parental consent requirements;
- Take all measures to end the deplorable practice of subjecting women living with HIV to forced, coerced or uninformed sterilization;
- Ensure universal access to antiretroviral therapy, of central importance in the prevention of mother to child HIV transmission and transmission between sexual partners;
- Fully involve all key affected populations, including adolescent girls and young women living with HIV, in any and all approaches intended to fast-track HIV and AIDS responses and end related stigma and discrimination.
In light of this High-Level Meeting, we call upon governments and the international community to recognize the agency of young women living with HIV over all aspects of our bodies and our lives, and ensure our central involvement and leadership in all policies that affect our communities.
Our Bodies, Our Sexual and Reproductive Rights!
- UNAIDS (2012), Every minute, a young woman is newly infected with HIV.
- UNFPA (2012), From Childhood to Womanhood: Meeting the Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of Adolescent Girls.
- World Health Organization (2013), Women’s health.
- UNAIDS (2012), Every minute, a young woman is newly infected with HIV.
- UNDP et al (2013), Protecting the Rights of Key HIV-Affected Women and Girls in Healthcare Settings: A Legal Scan.
- Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, A/HRC/22/53, paras. 46-48.
- 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, para. 96.
CYWAG WGNRR Advanced of the HLM Meeting on Ending AIDS Statement A4 (1520 KB)
Released date: 27-May-2016
To mark the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, GNP+, ICW and the IATT are launching “Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention for Women and their Babies: A treatment literacy guide for pregnant women and mothers living with HIV”
In line with the Day of Action’s call for a holistic inclusive and human rights-based approach to women and girls’ health, this new treatment literacy guide is a practical informative tool that reflects the latest WHO guidelines.
Available in both English and French, the guide is designed to offer a complete package of guidance for women living with HIV who are pregnant or considering getting pregnant.
Women living with HIV from eight countries have shared their expertise to shape the content and design of the guide and it was formulated in direct response to a call from communities for up-to-date, evidence-based resources.
Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention for Women and their Babies: A treatment literacy guide for pregnant women and mothers living with HIV is intended for use by networks of women living with HIV, women’s groups, peer educators and others wishing to provide information and guidance to support women living with HIV through the decisions they will need to make before, during and after their pregnancy.
The guide has 12 modules covering issues ranging from human rights to treatment adherence and nutrition. It is made up of three separate tools:
- facilitator’s manual
- illustrated flipchart
- accessible poster.
The facilitator’s manual and flipchart are intended to be used together by leaders of support groups, peer educators or lay counselors to facilitate small groups or community sessions with women living with HIV. The poster can be displayed anywhere where it will be seen by women living with HIV and their families, such as: clinic rooms, church halls, waiting rooms and community education spaces.
Quotes from the community
“When we piloted the materials, for the PMTCT guide the flipchart captured the women’s attention, ensuring a highly interactive discussion in which everyone participated.
Women in our support groups have shared that they get a lot of mixed messages and poor information, and they hope this PMTCT guide will open a dialogue on how best to ensure that women living with HIV have correct information and practical support for their pregnancy and experiences of motherhood.”
“The treatment literacy guide on PMTCT is one of its kind in Zambia. NZP+ and other community groups have been waiting for such a tool to guide us in our efforts to support women living with HIV to make informed decisions about their lives, free of stigma. The design and format would work very well in our country. NZP+ has community and health facility based supporters who conduct weekly/ monthly support sessions with women living with HIV on various health issues including family planning and PMTCT and we look forward to using the guide during these sessions.”
“Enfin un outil qui peut nous permettre de booster les choses, de nous activer en tant que femmes vivant avec le VIH pour emmener les femmes concernées elles même à comprendre les contours de la PTME.” (“Finally a tool that allows us to advance, to rise up as women living with HIV to lead women to engage themselves in understanding the issues surrounding PMTCT”).
“En plus cet outil facilitera aussi le renforcement des réseaux des femmes et leur leadership.”(“This tool will also strengthen networks of women and their leaders.”)
“As a West African activist on PMTCT, I noticed that our communities don’t always have access to or understand the global guidelines from WHO. The technical language with no images, was hard to communicate at a community level. There was a kind of disconnect between the global level and community level.
We welcome this treatment literacy guide for PMTCT. It will allow women to more easily understand the latest science and a comprehensive approach to PMTCT along all four pillars.”
This guide was developed by members of the Community Engagement Working Group (CEWG) of the Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) for Prevention and Treatment of HIV Infection in Pregnant Women, Mother and Children, a group committed to strengthening global, regional and national partnerships and programs that address the survival of pregnant women, mothers and children living with HIV.
Download the guide here
- Treatment literacy PMTCT – Facilitator's Manual (EN) (1091 KB)
- Treatment literacy PMTCT – Flipchart (EN) (1114 KB)
- Treatment literacy PMTCT – 2 Poster (EN) (31 KB)
- Treatment literacy PMTCT – Facilitator's Manual (FR) (548 KB)
- Treatment literacy PMTCT – Flipchart (FR) (1121 KB)
- Treatment literacy PMTCT – A2 Poster (FR) (46 KB)
New PMTCT Treatment Literacy Guide: Taking Action for Women’s Health! (278 KB)
Released date: 12-May-2016
ICW Demands Stigma, Discrimination and Violence-Free HIV Response to End AIDS by 2030
The International Community of Women living with HIV (ICW) joins with communities around the world in commemorating the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial on May 15, 2016.
ICW remembers our sisters, women and girls living with HIV who have died due to HIV and AIDS. In honor of their memory, ICW’s global sisterhood demands a sustainable HIV response that is responsive to our lived realities, needs, promotes our human rights, responds to gender transformative realities and realizes the meaningful involvement of women and girls living with HIV at all decision-making levels.
The candlelight memorial coordinated by the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) every third Sunday of May annually is much more than just a memorial to us. It is an opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of the community response to HIV and the importance of global solidarity and investment in community networks to lead efforts in breaking down barriers of violence against women and girls living with HIV in all our diversity including stigma and discrimination and other human rights violations and giving hope to new generations.
This year, in light of the International Candlelight Memorial 2016 theme of ‘Engage, Educate, Empower’ ICW calls upon development partners, policy-makers, governments, private sector take action now to save the lives of women living with HIV:
- Address barriers to health service uptake and retention of women, girls and their families by ensuring access to quality healthcare services. This includes ensuring resilient, accessible and sustainable systems of health that provide adequate and regular supplies of life saving commodities, other medications, and diagnostic tools, and promote smooth integration with other programs in ways that delivers the best care for women living with HIV and their families.
- Create stigma, discrimination and violence free environments for women and girls including key populations living with HIV to access treatment care and support and to meaningfully engage in all spheres including socio-economic, political and environmental.
- Recognize the impact that gender based violence has on the health, well-being and lives of women living with HIV. End violence against women and girls
living with HIV in all its forms and empower women and girls living with HIV of all ages to stand up for our rights to live our lives free of violence.
Uphold human rights by investing in accountability mechanisms and training to ensure service providers can meet international human rights standards and act to respect, protect and fulfill our fundamental human rights to achieve the highest attainable standard of health.
- Create opportunity for networks of women living with HIV to engage in policy-making processes and implementation of the sustainable development agenda 2030 at country levels including the funding mechanisms that must respond to our needs and realities. Only when women living with HIV are involved, resources can be used efficiently to provide a sustainable HIV response for universal access to quality health and social services.
- Increase investment in community-based responses to improve linkages to services, treatment literacy, preparedness, and agency that enable women to receive quality services and adhere to treatment. This includes support to deliver community-based services, which are key in health care systems, community support groups, peer support and expert clients living with HIV, and linkages to networks of women living with HIV.
Together We Are ICW!
International AIDS Candlelight Memorial 2016 Statement (248 KB)
Criminalisation,Equality,General,Reproductive Health,Rights,Women,About ICW
Released date: 10-May-2016
What Women Living with HIV Want!
ICW Women Living with HIV – High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS Consultation Outcome
In preparation for the upcoming High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS (HLM), to be held from June 8-10, 2016 in New York City, the International Community of Women living with HIV (ICW) conducted a process of consultation with our members around the world including meetings, reviewing regional positions, one-on-one dialogues, and an online survey of its members to understand better what women living with HIV want to see prioritized in the HLM Outcome Document and in country commitments. The consultation process was an important avenue to hear the voices and perspectives of women living with HIV from around the world.
In the weeks leading up to the High Level Meeting, ICW is working with our allies including International Council of AIDS Organizations (ICASO) and International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) to ensure that our voices are heard in the negotiations around developing the HLM, which will guide and monitor the HIV and AIDS response towards achieving the end of the AIDS epidemic by 2030; and towards realizing the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals. A zero draft of the was released by the UN on April 18, 2016. It will be negotiated by advocates, policymakers, and governmental officials over the coming weeks leading up to the HLM.
ICW Calls on Governments and Key Stakeholders to:
Commit to Gender Equality!
- Create a gender-responsive policy that takes a human rights-based approach to the HIV response;
- Implement programming priorities and funding that recognize gender discrimination as a barrier to a successful HIV response;
- Recognize and invest in community engagement of women living with HIV as central to the success of the HIV response;
- Commit to mobilize resources, especially at community level, and fully fund and support robust community participation including peer-led research.
End Discrimination and Criminalization!
- Eliminate adverse laws and policies including criminalization of HIV transmission which continue to impede HIV prevention and treatment, and the criminalization
of key populations like women who use drugs and sex workers; strengthen commitments already written in the Outcome Document to reject overly broad
criminalization of HIV as well as to reform punitive legal policies and frameworks aimed at people living with HIV.
Prioritize Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights!
- Recognize women’s autonomy over their bodies, and that gender discrimination is a barrier to ending AIDS by 2030;
- Keep all language regarding sexual health and reproductive rights and comprehensive sexuality education currently in the Outcome Document, and add
commitments to reducing violence against women, especially in conflict settings;
- Recognize that sexual health and reproductive rights encompasses abortion on demand, clear guidelines on breastfeeding for women living with HIV, freedom
from forced and coerced sterilization, rights-based PMTCT programs, as well as increased commitment and investment to ending maternal mortality;
these must be reflected as priorities in the Outcome Document;
- Recognize that women living with HIV are not only mothers, but we are also independent human beings, who are also deserving of their full human right
including sexual, reproductive and health rights and access to treatment care and support.
A call to women living with HIV prior to and during the HLM:
- Find out who will represent your country at the HLM, and reach out (write a letter to your UN mission and, if possible, join the delegation!);
- Meet with your country delegation to share ICW’s priorities for the HLM Outcome Document;
- Share information with one another, and become part of the ICW HLM working group.
NOTHING FOR US WITHOUT US!
ICW HLM Consultation Outcome 2016 Statement (52 KB)