For World AIDS Day, Elsevier journal helps raise awareness of impact of gender on HIV/AIDS

Study spotlights women’s increased susceptibility to HIV infection.

Amsterdam, 1 December 2004 – HIV/AIDS has rapidly become the most extensive and damaging epidemic the world has ever seen, representing a societal tragedy of far-reaching implications for human security, social and political stability, and economic development. A crucial aspect of the epidemic is the relationship between gender and HIV/AIDS, according to an article in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics published by Elsevier. How gender inequity is fueling the spread of this disease is especially relevant to World AIDS Day, founded by the World Health Organization in 1988 and focussing this year on the theme of “Women, Girls, and HIV/AIDS.”

In “Gender and HIV/AIDS”, Dr. T. Türmen, Executive Director, Family and Community Health at the WHO, explains why gender is such an important factor in understanding how on HIV/AIDS has spread?and how it continues to evolve. Although in the early stages of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, infection was predominantly among men, this has shifted dramatically. The number of infections among women is growing faster than in men, and even more disturbing, women are becoming infected at younger ages than men. In developing countries over two-thirds of all newly infected individuals are between 15 and 24 years old.

Why the shift? Women are more vulnerable to HIV than are men, observes Türmen, because of a variety of biological, cultural and socioeconomic factors, such as greater susceptibility to infection, limited access to healthcare, lack of power and independence to negotiate safe sex, inequalities in education about sexual interaction, and poverty. These factors and more all converge to increase a woman’s risk of becoming infected.

Suggestions for biological interventions include prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections and the development of vaccines and microbicides, while behavioral interventions specially aimed at women should focus on formal HIV/AIDS education and health education, in general, averting instances of violence and abuse, targeted mass media campaigns and use of antiretroviral drugs before birth, among others.

“This work certainly points to the role?and responsibility?gynecologists and obstetricians have in identifying these and additional factors that are putting women and girls greater risk for HIV/AIDS,“ declared Dr. Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, Secretary General of FIGO. “Integrating these significant gender issues into the training of new physicians can definitely contribute to the education and empowerment of women, which is vital to stemming the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”


About the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics
The International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics is the official journal of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), the only worldwide organization that groups obstetricians and gynecologists. The mission of FIGO is to promote the well-being of women and to raise the standard of practice in obstetrics and gynecology. FIGO, a benevolent, non-profit organisation funded through subscriptions received from member societies, grants and the proceeds of its triennial World Congress, is composed of 110 member societies, and represents obstetricians and gynecologists in over one hundred territories.

About Elsevier
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