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ICW: The International Community of Women with HIV/AIDS -

International Maternal Health and Rights Day

ICW calls on global policy makers to 'Make it Happen' for women and girls living with HIV.

This International Maternal Health and Rights Day ICW is joining the global call to action to ensure respectful and dignified maternal care and human rights for all women and particularly women living with HIV around the world.

April 11, 2015

  • Every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.
  • Maternal mortality and HIV/AIDS are the two leading causes of death among women of reproductive age worldwide, and the two are unmistakably interconnected.
  • A disproportionate amount of maternal deaths are HIV-related. In sub-Saharan Africa, about a quarter of pregnancy-related deaths are attributable to HIV—in some high prevalence areas, this number may be higher than 50 percent.
  • Globally, women living with HIV are 7 to 8 times more likely to die during pregnancy and the postpartum period than their HIV-negative peers.

Although improvements in health facilities and medical treatments have cut global maternal mortality rates by almost half in the past twenty years, maternal deaths for women living with HIV have not seen similar reductions. Worryingly, maternal mortality rates during this period have in fact increased in eight high HIV-prevalence countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

While interventions to prevent vertical (mother-to-child) transmission of HIV have resulted in lower rates of transmission of HIV to infants, expectant mothers with HIV often face intense stigma, discrimination and abuse from health care providers. Women living with HIV around the world report human rights violations in maternal health care settings, including violations of confidentiality and the right to informed consent; refusal to provide conditional access to services, including coerced and forced sterilization, forced and coerced abortion; and stigma and discrimination including physical and emotional abuse. This mistreatment deters women from seeking and receiving the care they need. In the context of maternal health care stigma and discrimination can be a matter of life or death for women living with HIV.

ICW demands that the new global agenda secures respectful and dignified maternal care for women living with HIV:

  1. Maternal health priorities must not only focus on the elimination of new HIV infections in children, but on keeping mothers alive.
  2. Improving maternal health and reducing maternal mortality for women living with HIV must use a rights-based approach and employ strong stigma reduction efforts along the continuum of reproductive and maternal health care.
  3. Increased research on the relationship between HIV infection and causes of maternal morbidity and mortality is essential.
  4. Women living with HIV must receive increased access to treatment, care, and support including antenatal and prevention of vertical transmission services and be able to make voluntary, fully informed, autonomous decisions about their bodies and health.
  5. Accountability mechanisms by and for women living with HIV must be developed to monitor maternal care programmes for rights violations, discrimination, and barriers to care.
  6. Women living with HIV must be meaningfully involved in the design, implementation, and evaluation of programmes and services.

Women living with HIV join the call to action by CHANGE and other maternal health advocates on this International Day of Maternal Health and Rights to demand a rights based approach to respectful and dignified maternal health care and to ensure that women, and particularly women living with HIV, are at the center of efforts to improve maternal health outcomes.

Join the conversation on Twitter #IntlMHDay.


Reproduced with permission - "ICW: The International Community of Women with HIV/AIDS"

ICW: The International Community of Women with HIV/AIDS

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