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Coalition for a Blueprint for Action on Women and Girls and HIV/AIDS -

World AIDS Day 2012:
30 years into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, prevention and treatments do not stop infections in women and girls in Canada and globally

December 1, 2012 - Toronto, Ontario - To mark both the 30th year of the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the decade of life-saving treatments, the Coalition for a Blueprint for Action on Women and Girls and HIV/AIDS, a Canadian network of women living with HIV, researchers, health care workers, members of national and provincial non-governmental organizations and AIDS service organizations, call for immediate implementation of its blueprint to prevent, and treat, HIV infections in women and girls.

It lauds recent UNAIDS reports of a 50% drop in HIV infections globally due to prevention methods and HIV treatments access. Unfortunately, despite the advances, this still leaves millions of people, including women and girls, to die, including in sub-Saharan Africa where the epidemic has hit women and girls hardest. Elsewhere, women's and girls' health is often second to that of men and boys, leaving them to bear the greater brunt of infections, illness and death. Women are also often unpaid caregivers, leaving them to bear the greater brunt of care and support.

In Canada there were an estimated 755 new HIV infections among women in 2011, which represented 23.8% of all new infections. 76.6% of new infections among women was attributed to the heterosexual exposure category and 23.4% was attributed to injection drug use.

"In Canada, the epidemic continues to be feminized. Many women are infected within marriages or due to socio-economic inequalities such as poverty and violence, leaving women unable to negotiate safer sex or other risk reduction practices with their partners. These inequalities in Canada, as elsewhere, are spreading HIV," said Louise Binder, member and co-founder of the Blueprint Coalition.

"We must increase prevention efforts, and HIV/AIDS education aimed at women, especially young women. There is so much need for support for women and girls living with HIV such as educational opportunities, affordable housing, shelters for those escaping violence, and street outreach programmes for those living on the street," said Kim Thomas of the Canadian AIDS Society.

People living with HIV in Canada can be charged with aggravated sexual assault for not disclosing their HIV status to sexual partners except in very limited circumstances - including when the risk of transmission is exceedingly low. "For women living with HIV, this legal obligation is incredibly harsh and can open positive-women up to further stigma, discrimination, threats and violence" according to Alison Symington of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. "Non-disclosure and aggravated sexual assault are completely different. By lumping them together, the courts are advancing poor public health policy as well as producing grave injustices. Women often cannot negotiate condom use and may not have access to regular medical care. This ruling will put women at risk rather than protect them."

"HIV and AIDS touch us all," said Binder. "Implementation of our Blueprint for Action by governments, researchers and other relevant stakeholders will help turn the tide of this epidemic in Canada."

A copy of the Blueprint for Action on Women and Girls and HIV/AIDS is here:

For more information and interviews contact: Louise Binder 416-457-3179

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"Reproduced with permission - "Blueprint for Action on Women and HIV/AIDS"

Blueprint for Action on Women and HIV/AIDS

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