Women Are The Missing Link In The HIV EquationJune 2, 2011 1 Comment
The problem with HIV and AIDS is that we always think of it as a problem for The Other — people with different lifestyles, sexual orientations and even nationalities. But the virus doesn’t discriminate and neither should the health system. Women who could benefit from treatment are being left out in the cold in Canada.
In 2009, an estimated 30.8 million people were living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, according to statistics published by UNAIDS in November 2010. It’s a scary figure, but what’s worse is that some groups of women are being neglected when it comes to prevention, detection and treatment of HIV, according to the Canadian Press.
Typically, when we think of HIV, it’s easy to go to the usual suspects. The movie Kids really captures what the HIV panic was like in the mid-1990s and cements a stereotype of who we paint the victims of AIDS to be; often reckless teenagers and promiscuous homosexuals.
Most of us do know that it’s a serious epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately 22.5 million people have AIDS. Those infected in North America can’t come close to this staggering number, but it’s still a significant problem that certain groups of women are being left out of the HIV/AIDS conversation.
Specifically, elderly women, aboriginal women and immigrants from countries where AIDS has reached the endemic proportions are falling through health care gaps, explained Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi in a statement to the press.
The latest figures published by POWER, Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based Report, suggest that the inequality in HIV treatment stems from geography, poverty and injection drug use.
Women who live in remote locations, are poor, have mental health issues, or just don’t have easy access to community-based HIV services are not getting the care that they need to the detriment of their own health and potentially the health of their babies, as antiretroviral drugs are key in preventing a fetus from contacting the virus.
So it’s not only Canadians who must work to fill these gaps. It’s has to be a collective effort by all countries. It’s only by pooling our resources that we can really work to stop the spread of HIV and also help everyone who already suffers from the deadly virus.
If we can’t yet cure AIDS, let’s at least cure inequality by treating everyone who has HIV/AIDS.
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