Red Cross moves to protect women,young girls in HIV/AIDS fight
December 3, 2006
The plight of vulnerable people affected by HIV/AIDS, especially women and young girls, is becoming a major focus of concern for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Secretary General of Guyana Red Cross Society, Ms Dorothy Fraser, said that the growing feminisation of the HIV epidemic is not just due to biological factors but also to the consequence of the social vulnerability of many women and girls, including rape, sexual exploitation and trafficking.
Her comments came during Friday's launch of the HIV/AIDS campaign ‘Faces' at Cara Lodge. “More emphasis must be placed on the female gender since this situation presents a direct violation of gender rights,” she said.
She pointed out that Dr Mukesh Kapila, an HIV/AIDS Specialist of the International Federation, asserts that the epidemic of sexual and gender-based violence must be considered as an emergency in its own right. The Secretary General said that women and girls living with HIV also face the additional challenge of stigma and marginalisation.
As such the Federation is taking on the wider challenge of fighting the impact of the disease through global campaigns.
Campaigns like the ‘Come Closer' campaign which is aimed at encouraging communities to dispel myths and fears about HIV transmission, has been ongoing for the past two years, according to Ms Fraser. The ‘Faces' campaign, which is intended to target young adults globally, was launched simultaneously in several countries as part of the World AIDS Day observance on Friday. Ms Fraser noted, too, that several other events and activities are being streamlined for the remainder of the year with organisations of people living with HIV.
One month prior to World AIDS Day, the International Federation launched a US$300 million appeal to combat HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa which is the world's worst affected region.
According to Ms Fraser, the funds will be used to convey prevention messages to some 50 million people, provide care for 250,000 people living with HIV, and support 460,000 vulnerable children, particularly orphans.
She said that there is a broader call for mobilisation with 100 per cent increase in global commitment to fight the epidemic using community-based approach. “We must affirm our task and responsibility to protect the lives and dignity of people living with HIV/AIDS.”
She added that the local Red Cross Society is involved in a variety of programmes, including awareness on the prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections, including HIV/AIDS. Several orphans have also been able to benefit from the Red Cross's assistance, she said. Through outreach programmes, Ms Fraser said, many people infected with HIV/AIDS have been able to receive much needed assistance.
She added that these efforts will contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals of reversing the spread of HIV by advocating and enabling universal access to prevention care, treatment and support.