World AIDS Day: Women and HIV

Publish Date: 06/08/2007

It was among women that the real heroes of the war against HIV/AIDS were to be found; Secretary-General Kofi Annan said this on International Women's Day this year. In most countries and communities, he said, it was women who had been the most active and effective advocates and activists in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Supporting those women, and encouraging others to follow their example, must be the strategy for the future. "It is our job to furnish them with strength, resources and hope", he stated.

  • Of the 10 million young people living with HIV worldwide, 6.2 million live in sub-Saharan Africa - 75% of whom are young women.
  • Women are 8 times more likely than men to contract HIV from one act of intercourse.
  • It is heterosexual women who continue to bear the brunt of the epidemic in the UK, which reflects their position worldwide.
  • Cases in heterosexual women, mainly Africans, went up 11 percent in the UK last year.
  • Cases in women more than doubled between 1999 and 2001 in the UK.
  • Despite myths and stereotypes, many older women are sexually active, and, some are drug users; therefore, their behaviors can put them at risk for HIV infection.
  • Over 300 HIV-infected pregnant women give birth in the UK each year.
  • The number of women with HIV in the Northwest has grown proportionally more than that of men.

Positively Women is the only national charity working to improve the quality of life of women and families affected by HIV. Positively Women was established in 1987 by a group of HIV positive women who were determined to set up services specific to women's needs. They formed a support group, which provided a safe space for women to talk openly about the challenges they faced. Today, the organisation remains strongly committed to the ethos of peer support and empowerment.

HIV transmission may come through vaginal fluids infected with blood and lesbians should be aware of HIV risks Doctors in Pennsylvania have reported a likely case of HIV transmission between female sex partners.

An HIV-positive bisexual woman in the USA may have infected her partner by using sex toys so vigorously that she bled during intercourse.The partner who became infected, a 20-year-old college student, said she had only engaged in lesbian sex over the past two years and always with the same woman.