HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death and disease for women of reproductive age, according to health officials. A new report says much needs to be done to reverse that trend.
The report, from AIDS Accountability International, looks at how countries have responded to the needs of women regarding the pandemic by using a scorecard for each nation.
Executive Director Rodrigo Garay says, “AAI’s scorecard represents the first and only independent comprehensive rate mechanism to hold governments and other leaders accountable for their progress in addressing HIV/AIDS.”
Following through on commitments
“Through the Millennium Development Goals and the 2001 Declaration of commitment on HIV/AIDS, all United Nation member states have committed to a series of actions and concrete…targets to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS,” he says.
However, the scorecard shows there’s much to be done to fulfill those commitments.
“There is widespread lack of accountability and transparency in national AIDS responses, meaning we do not have the information that we should about human and financial resources are being utilized and how well countries are meeting their agreed targets for the well-being of women and girls,” he says.
Economic downturn having an effect
“The current global financial crisis is affecting the will and ability of donors to sustain the high levels of funding that are necessary for an effective global response to AIDS,” he says.
Garay says better monitoring and evaluation are needed to show whether funding is being well spent.
“The main purpose of AIDS Accountability Scorecard on Women is to create transparency on governments’ performance in relation to these commitments to women,” says Per Strand of the University of Cape Town and AAI’s scientific director.
AAI's sample scorecard of a country's AIDS response to women and girls
He says the scorecard will encourage “constructive dialogue between key stakeholders in government, civil society and among global agencies on how country responses can become more effective and how progress should be best monitored.”
More awareness needed
U.N. Special Envoy on AIDS in Africa Elizabeth Mataka supports the findings. She says, “Very limited progress has been made towards the achievement of the targets. Certainly, we are faced with a situation where much, much more needs to be done.”
Mataka says there’s a lack of awareness about the disease and how to prevent it.
“Globally, only 38 percent of females can demonstrate accurate and sufficient knowledge about ways to protect themselves from acquiring HIV,” she says. The U.N. target was 95 percent awareness by 2010.
“In saying this, I also acknowledge that different countries are at different levels. For example, in 2007, Eritrea had reached 79 percent, Rwanda 57 percent and Angola 23 percent,” she says.
The complete AAI scorecard can be found at www.aidsaccountability.org .
Mataka adds, “We need to understand specifically what it is in real terms that actually renders women much more vulnerable to infection to HIV so as to develop…informed programs that specifically address those needs.”
Also on hand for the report’s release was Sigrun Mogedal, Norwegian HIV/AIDS ambassador.
“I believe this report puts it all into reality and out of the illusion that we’ve come a long way to be response to the rights and needs of women. If any response should be gender sensitive, it is the HIV and AIDS response. And we’ve known that,’ she says.
AIDS Accountability International is a non-profit organization is based in South Africa and Sweden.