Refocusing the National Discussion on HIV/AIDS
Written By Gina Quattrochi
CEO, Bailey House
Member of Steering Committee, “30 for 30″
Board Member, NAHC
Two weeks ago President Obama issued a resolution establishing the first federal agency “Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender and Health Disparities”. The Administration’s action comes at the time when research shows increasing evidence that HIV incidence among women, which is growing in many parts of the nation, particularly the South, at alarming rates, often results from factors, which until recently were not addressed in traditional HIV prevention programs. Clearly we need to do better to stop the epidemic from affecting yet another generation of women.
Let’s look at HIV prevention up to now – one of the most common strategies is to encourage the use of condoms and other types of safer sex. The reality is that women and girls who are victims of intimate partner violence have little or no ability to protect themselves in any way. Even worse is that sex is often the way they are humiliated and injured. Why then have we been arming them with information about safer sex and coaching them to insist that male partners use a condom? The most obvious answer is that violence of any kind was not in the past associated with HIV incidence. Neither was homelessness, poverty, healthcare disparities and other things that we now know are the key drivers. So how does HIV prevention have to change to address these realities? What are your thoughts?