Globally, women are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS. In 2012, women accounted for 40% of all people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, the region hit hardest by the epidemic.7 In Asia, the number of women living with HIV nearly doubled between 2000 and 2008.1
Preventing Transmission of HIV from Mother to Child
HIV transmission from mother to child can occur during pregnancy, birth or breast feeding. In regions with a high prevalence of HIV among women of reproductive age, children and adolescents have inevitably become a risk group. Despite progress, 905 children still become infected with HIV every single day.7
Our Positive Action for Children Fund supports organisations to deliver prevention of mother-to-child HIV services and advocacy.
Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM)
In many parts of the world, homosexuality is highly stigmatised, and sometimes criminalised. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 37 countries have laws prohibiting same-sex activity between consenting adults.4 Elsewhere, there is an increase in the number of HIV among MSM in North America, Western Europe and Australia, tied to an increase in high-risk sexual behaviour.
Commercial Sex Workers
Because of exposure to many different sexual partners and an increased frequency of unprotected sex, commercial sex workers are at high risk of contracting HIV. They are often subject to rape and violence, and are often not empowered to access condoms or demand their use. Other factors such as stigma and marginalisation, lack of protective legislation or policies, and lack of access to health, social and legal services, increase the vulnerability of this group.
Injecting Drug Users (IDU)
This group is one of the highest risk groups for HIV due to needle sharing. The prevalence of HIV infection is at least 22 times higher among people who inject drugs than for the population as a whole.6
Globally, around 16 million people inject drugs and 3 million of them are living with HIV.7 In Eastern Europe, according to a 2007 report, use of contaminated equipment was the source of 57% of newly diagnosed cases.1
Prisoners can be an isolated community that often have little access to HIV prevention, education, treatment or support. As a result, HIV is often spread among the incarcerated, most commonly via injecting drug use or sexual contact.
Individuals are often vulnerable, marginalised and isolated from HIV treatment and prevention campaigns. On average they have more sexual partners, lower condom use and increased involvement in substance abuse. The high prevalence of these risk factors makes them extremely vulnerable to HIV infection.
Individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 are at increasing risk of HIV. Estimates put the infection rate among this population at nearly 5 million, with over 2,400 infected every day in 2011.8 Women are disproportionally affect with infection rates twice as high as in young men.
Positive Action for Children Fund grantees International Planned Parenthood Federation & Family Health Options Kenya collaborated on the Adolescents Count Today project to empower young people living with or affected by HIV in Kenya. Take a tour of the project and find out more.
Overcoming Stigma and Discrimination
Throughout the world, stigma and discrimination have a profound impact on the populations most vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. This is a significant problem even in the developed world. For example, the percentage of people living with HIV who reported discriminatory attitudes among employers and co-workers ranged from 8% in Estonia to 54% in Malaysia. 7
Discrimination commonly extends further than this, to actual loss of job or income, verbal insults and physical harassment, assault and sometimes death due to HIV associated violence.7 Stigma and discrimination are two of the major issues that prevent people living with HIV from accessing healthcare in the community.
Our Positive Action at Work materials have been created for you to freely use to help raise awareness and reduce stigma and discrimination in the workplace. You can find all the resources here.
Access to Accurate Information and Education
At the heart of many of the issues surrounding HIV is a lack of education. Reaching out to educate communities about prevention, treatment and managing their risk of infection is a big challenge, especially for vulnerable and marginalised groups. But it is instrumental to overcoming the epidemic. We can provide sufficient services, but without people understanding how to access the services and change their behaviour, there will be limited benefit.
Access to Medicines
Although more than 8 million people are now receiving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), according to WHO guidelines there are another 7 million people worldwide who need to be on therapy.9
The barriers to access are complex and challenging. They touch on all aspects of delivering healthcare in resource-poor settings and need a multi-stakeholder response.
- 1. UNAIDS 2010. UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic. Available at:http://www.unaids.org/globalreport/documents/20101123_GlobalReport_full_en.pdf. Accessed on September 13, 2011
- 2. World Health Organization 2010. PMTCT Strategic vision 2010-2015: preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV to reach the UNGASS and Millennium Development Goals. Available at: http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/mtct/strategic_vision.pdf. Accessed on September 13, 2011
- 3. Harm Reduction Developments 2005: Countries with Injection-Driven HIV Epidemics. Available at:http://www.soros.org/initiatives/health/focus/ihrd/articles_publications/publications/ihrdreport_20060417/ihrd_ar.pdfAccessed on September 13, 2011
- 4. Itaborahy LP & Zhu J. State-sponsored homophobia: a world survey of laws: Criminalisation, protection and recognition of same-sex love. 2013. http://old.ilga.org/Statehomophobia/ILGA_State_Sponsored_Homophobia_2013.pdf (Link Expired). Accessed on June 3, 2013
- 5. Opportunity in Crisis: Preventing HIV from early adolescence to young adulthood. June 2011.http://www.unicef.org/devpro/files/Opportunity_in_Crisis-Report_EN_052711.pdf. Accessed on September 13, 2011.
- 6. UNAIDS 2012. UNAIDS GLOBAL FACT SHEET. Available at: http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/gr2012/20121120_FactSheet_Global_en.pdf. Accessed on June 3, 2013.
- 7. UNAIDS 2012. UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic. Available at: http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/gr2012/20121120_UNAIDS_Global_Report_2012_with_annexes_en.pdf. Accessed on June 3, 2013.
- 8. UNAIDS 2012. UNAIDS: Putting young people at the centre of the response to HIV. Available at: http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/featurestories/2012/august/20120810youthday/. Accessed on June 3, 2013.
- 9. WHO 2012. World Health Organisation: HIV and AIDS Fact sheet. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs360/en/. Accessed on June 3, 2012.