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AIDS, gender and human rights

With the right care, people with HIV can live long and fully productive lives. Yet the gulf between science and practice remains, and more women than ever have HIV. openDemocracy 50.50 explores the ways in which global policies ignore the gender dimensions of this pandemic, and the impact this has on women's human rights. Commissioning Editor Alice Welbourn.

Women and the post-2015 agenda: are you on board the ark?

With the roller-coaster of the CSW just finished and the resignation of UNWomen Director Michelle Bachelet, the next year promises stormy seas ahead for setting the future agenda for women’s rights. Alice Welbourn sets out some priorities for civil society in relation to HIV, gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive rights.

Sex work, violence and HIV: experience from rural Karnataka

In the final days of the CSW meeting in New York, arguments over the language to be used in the Outcome Document are continuing, with some States refusing to acknowledge the existence of intimate partner violence in spite of widespread scientific evidence and testimony from victims of violence.  

CSW: from the global to the local - an extraordinary opportunity

Walking the bustling corridors of the UN headquarters with my Ugandan colleagues, I realise that I am situated – physically, intellectually, emotionally, politically – in the most direct connection between global policy making and grass root programming. Charlotte Watts reflects on her first week at the UN CSW

Criminal law: HIV and violence against women

Recent court decisions in Canada on HIV non-disclosure are bad science, bad public health policy, and bad medicine for women, says Louise Binder

The gender politics of funding women human rights defenders

Lack of funding for women’s rights is a form of gender-based violence which is so pervasive that it goes largely unnoticed. Alice Welbourn says it is critical for us to hold governments and the UN to account for gender equitable budgeting.

Against coerced sterilisation: a resounding victory in Namibia

Are autonomous feminist movements more important for tackling violence against women than the wealth of a country and the levels of female representation in government? Nell Osborne examines the transformative power of women's movements.

Global mechanism, regional solution: ending forced sterilisation

For the first time in south-east Asia, an HIV-positive women's group in Indonesia is using the CEDAW Shadow Report to challenge the forced sterilisation and violence against positive women

An HIV-free generation: human sciences vs plumbing

The top down medical bio-fix behind the new Global Plan for an AIDS-free generation will not work without shifting the status quo to include human rights and the science of phenomenology: that means talking to us, funding us and involving us, says Alice Welbourn

Is there a future for women living with HIV?

Rumours of the closure of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS, and a World Bank and USAID meeting of "world thought leaders" with no women on the panel. On the final day of the XIX International AIDS Conference, Alice Welbourn reports on the battle for the human rights of women with HIV to health, participation in the world, and to dignity.

No test, no arrest: criminal laws to fuel another HIV epidemic

"It is a terrible irony that we have come to a place where the medications we fought for will allow us to live a relatively normal quality of life, and now we are going to go to jail for doing so". Louise Binder reports on laws that will deter people from testing for HIV and increase the fear of stigma

Are hospitals safe for women living with HIV?

There is no shortage of documentation regarding the struggle of women living with HIV to access basic care, support, and treatment. There is however a dearth of remedies and of justice.

HIV: time for the US to put its own house in order ?

In the US more than 80% of women living with HIV are women of colour and poverty. Funding is drying up for prevention and supportive services, and HIV criminalization is on the increase. Alice Welbourn reports on the opening day of the X1X International AIDS Conference in Washington DC

HIV, women and abortion rights

Interventions to link HIV-related and reproductive health services must not only include access to modern contraceptive methods and non-discriminatory antenatal, delivery and postnatal care, but also access to safe legal abortion, says Maria de Bruyn

Exploring violence as a consequence of HIV

With HIV now the leading cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age worldwide, Anca Nitulescu asks whether the AIDS 2012 conference will finally address the links between HIV and gender based violence

Hope, pain and patience: HIV and sex workers

A year after the UN adopted a declaration in which member states committed to creating “enabling legal, social and policy frameworks in each national context …to eliminate stigma, discrimination and violence related to HIV” . Nada Mustafa Ali reports on the situation in South Sudan

The right to know: women’s choices, Depo-Provera and HIV

As we enter the fourth decade of AIDS, we need to assert once again the importance of transparency, knowledge and autonomy in the introduction and distribution of technologies for prevention and treatment of the disease.

HIV in Italy: the epidemic continues growing among women

44,3% of all new diagnoses of HIV are among migrant women. New culturally appropriate approaches are needed to community work, in order to reach those women who are most marginalized, says Silvia Petretti.

L'HIV in Italia: l’epidemia continua a crescere tra le donne

il 44,3% di tutte le nuove diagnosi di infezione da HIV si registra tra le immigrate. C'è bisogno di nuovi approcci al nostro lavoro all’interno della comunità che tengano in considerazione l’adeguatezza culturale e che ci permettano di offrire sostegno anche alle donne che sono più marginalizzate, dice Silvia Petretti.

USA: banning people with HIV from attending the AIDS 2012 conference

Heidemarie Kremer is a medical doctor, psychologist, and scientist. She has been barred from presenting her science at the International AIDS Conference in Washington because she is HIV-positive. She writes, "I have a criminal record because I am open about my HIV status. The stigma has made me silent". 

Positive and pregnant in Asia - How dare you

Extreme discrimination, abuse and abandonment during delivery by maternal health professionals against women with HIV can be  murderous. Susan Paxton reports on a rigorous study conducted in six Asian countries

Accepted mishaps? Faith healing, HIV and AIDS responses

As the 2012 International AIDS Conference gathers to review “the science”, Jessica Horn examines the powerful role of faith-healing in African communities affected by HIV and AIDS, and asks why there is still so little policy and activist action on the issue.

HIV and the Global Plan: turning the tide or a wash-out for women?

The 19th International  AIDS Conference opens in Washington DC next week. We all seek an HIV-free generation but as the Global Plan gathers pace, the juggernaut effect, with little safeguard for women’s rights or safety, may yet derail the process. Alice Welbourn explains why.

HIV: of bombs and banks and transformation...

Thirty years into the AIDS pandemic, an AIDS-free generation is in our grasp at last. Alice Welbourn asks whether we are really going to let it vanish, thanks to the aggressive traits of financiers and governments ?

Let’s get real: female sexual pleasure and HIV prevention

The dominant HIV intervention response assumes that HIV transmission only occurs in contexts of danger and violation. It is time to take into account young women’s actual sexual experiences and recognise that sex is also a positive and joyous experience, however unsettling this may be for the HIV prevention community, says Tsitsi Masvawure.

The "calm down dear" factor writ large: AIDS, women and the UN

In the words of the African parable, when elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers. Then what will they have to survive on? Alice Welbourn reports on the plethora of men on the platform in New York....

Rocking the cradle - and the boat

Global funding for HIV/Aids now goes to large international organisations. They need the grassroots organisations to tick their boxes of “community involvement”, but they are corporate entities, and the money for the daily advocacy work of positive women has all but dried up, says Alice Welbourn

Positive women human rights defenders

When the world has come to terms with the reality that HIV is not a morality issue, and that it can affect any one of us, it will be time to recognize the dangerous work of these women defneders of human rights.

Sterilisation: the fight for bodily integrity

Accessing justice has been a long process for the sterilized HIV positive women whose cases are being heard before a judge in Namibia - and longer still for the women who may never have their day in court

A funding struggle for an HIV prevention in women’s hands

Scientific decisions over AIDS are in danger of being left at the mercy of economics as scientists and activists divide over fears of jeopardising what little funds are available in a recession

International donors must fund female-controlled HIV prevention gel

A potential breakthrough in HIV prevention is being stifled by a lack of funding. Chi Mgbako outlines the necessity of putting safeguards against HIV transmission into female hands.

We hear the thunder but we see no rain

Whilst the dollars roll big-time for medical male circumcision, we are forever at the wrong end of a deeply entrenched uneven male playing field of traditions when it comes to gender, HIV - and funding

A focus on sex workers

The attitude that we can ' rescue' sex workers has led to provisions in anti-trafficking and anti-prostitution laws which limit the ability of sex workers to access life-saving care and address the HIV epidemic

US foreign policy and unsafe abortion in Africa

United States foreign policy abortion restrictions have seriously limited African NGOs’ efforts to reduce deaths associated with unsafe abortion procedures. A permanent ban of the Global Gag Rule would allow US foreign aid recipients in Africa to invest resources in safe abortion care without fearing a potential change in US foreign policy with each new administration

The history of an AIDS dinosaur

In 1988, I received the confirmation of my positive second Western Blot test in a phone booth at Teheran’s main post office. As an AIDS dinosaur, I would like to share some personal experiences....

Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence

At the close of the AIDS Conference in Vienna, Alice Welbourn reports that the question of whether a human rights agenda to public health will really start to find its way into the science tracks of these conferences still hangs above us all

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