HIV +ve women left out of decision making process: UN report

"Often HIV-positive women lack information, lobbying skills and training to participate effectively when invited to meetings," Tyler Crone, the lead author of report 'Transforming the National AIDS Response: Advancing Women's Leadership and Participation', said.

Nearly 60 per cent of adults living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women, while in the Caribbean HIV prevalence rate among women has increased from 46 per cent in 2001 to 53 per cent in 2008, making it the second most affected region after sub-Saharan Africa, the report said.

Women who were interviewed cited factors like gender norm, stigma, lack of access to information, the burden of care giving and female's multiple responsibilities in the home and illiteracy as the main reasons for being left out of the decision making process.

"Getting a seat at the table where decisions are made on issues like how to access treatment in remote villages, how to educate the communities about prevention of HIV, how to reach out to women who often face violence or discrimination if they reveal their status, is often next to impossible for an HIV-positive woman," Crone said.

Agreeing to Crone's view, chief of UNIFEM Ines Alberdi said: "Through our work on the ground we have repeatedly heard the voices of women as they provide concrete examples of what can work on the ground in preventing or reducing the epidemic. But these voices are missing in policy responses.

The report highlights the importance of effective participation of women, especially HIV-positive ones, in being part of the solutions and in finding sustainable and effective strategies to address HIV/ AIDS, Alberdi said.

The report makes 10 recommendations on to get more females involved in the decision-making process including reserving formal places for their full participation and leadership in decision-making bodies, such as on the Country Coordinating Mechanisms of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

On a positive note, a separate report recently released by the World Health Organisation, found that out of the 5 million people who are now receiving HIV treatment, of which 1.2 million started in 2009, the largest annual increase ever recorded.

"This is the largest increase in people accessing treatment in a single year. It is an extremely encouraging development," a senior official at WHO Hiroki Nakatani said.

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