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Sex Worker Advocacy Groups Share Funding Strategies at IAC

Sex workers’ advocacy groups shared strategies for funding at the International AIDS Conference.

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Linking Reproductive Health, Family Planning and HIV/AIDS – What and Who Do We Include?

Maria de Bruyn is the Senior Policy Advisor for Ipas.

On 9-10 October 2006, Addis Ababa University and the Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health organized an interesting conference for over 480 participants in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: "Linking Reproductive Health and Family Planning with HIV/AIDS Programs in Africa." As is often the case at such meetings, useful information was shared that led to more questions needing answers.

A number of presentations investigated the fertility intentions of people living with HIV/AIDS. Researchers reporting on studies from Botswana, Ethiopia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda indicated that HIV-positive women (and men) often want to continue having children. Not surprisingly, however, considerable numbers of women living with HIV also do not want (more) children – especially if they are already mothers, are somewhat older and not in a relationship with a new partner. Sadly, numerous studies also reported an unmet need for family planning among HIV-positive individuals, which is resulting in unwanted pregnancies. One study among people receiving antiretroviral therapy at a large clinic in Ethiopia, for example, found that unsafe abortion was a problem for their female clients.

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HIV Testing and Reproductive Choice – How Did The Rights-Based Approach Play Out?

Any reflections on the XVI International Conference on AIDS are necessarily subjective, as each person reporting attended different sessions, had different goals and talked to different people at different times. Nevertheless, taking the various perspectives into account can give us a more comprehensive view of what transpired in Toronto.

Advocates for women’s and rights issues can rightly take pride in having focused at least some attention on topics that were relatively neglected, such as female-controlled (at least to some extent!) barrier methods (female condoms, microbicides, diaphragms and cervical caps) and violence against women.

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Making the Connection II: Gender-based Violence and HIV

Maria de Bruyn is the Senior Policy Advisor for Ipas.

"Gender-based violence and HIV: making the connection" was the theme for an evening satellite meeting convened by the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW) and the ATHENA Network. Chairs Sofia Gruskin of Harvard University and Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland now with the Ethical Globalization Initiative, invited panelists from Africa, North America and Latin America to speak about intersections between gender-based violence (GBV) and HIV. Other delegates then offered information on approaches they used, challenges they faced and ideas about how to move forward.

Awino Okech (Mother Tongue, South Africa) called on those present not only to address HIV infection resulting from domestic and sexual violence, but also violence in response to women's voluntary or involuntary disclosure of their positive HIV status. She also asked for honesty in addressing the fact that some women become positive because they, like men, choose to have extramarital relations; a focus on sexuality needs to be added to our analyses.

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Making the Connection: Vulnerable Populations, HIV/AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Maria de Bruyn is the Senior Policy Advisor for Ipas.

Prior to and throughout the International AIDS Conference, activists and experts are meeting in a series of satellite sessions that address issues that may not get the full attention of the conference. This satellite session focused on linking HIV/AIDS with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), especially with regard to men who have sex with men, sex workers and injecting drug users. There were a number of noteworthy statements and reflections:

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Making Women’s Voices Heard at IAC

Maria de Bruyn is a Senior Advisor for Ipas and a medical anthropologist by training. At Ipas, she has identified, researched, and publicized linkages between abortion and other sexual and reproductive health issues, including HIV/AIDS.

One issue that is receiving a great deal of attention at the International AIDS Conference is the effect the AIDS epidemic is having on women and girls around the world.

In 1992, the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW) was formed at the Amsterdam AIDS Conference. There, HIV-positive women spoke out about the need to address gender biases that increase their vulnerability to HIV infection, worsen the stigma and discrimination attached to AIDS, and place most of the burden of care for AIDS patients and orphans on their shoulders.

Today, 14 years later, some progress has been made.

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