Health Action AIDS

AIDS Protection for Women & Girls

The rate of HIV infection among women and girls is rising dramatically in much of the developing world, and has reached an alarmingly high level in sub-Saharan Africa where almost 60% of HIV-positive adults are women, and young women aged 15 to 24 are about three times more likely than young men to be infected. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls already make up almost 60% of adults living with HIV. Women and girls are particularly at risk of HIV infection due to a number of factors including:

  • Rape and domestic violence
  • Marriage to older HIV-infected men
  • Lack of education generally and about HIV prevention specifically
  • Sex trafficking
  • Poverty, discrimination in property and inheritance, and lack of access to formal employment, leading to a high rate of transactional sex
  • Lack of power to negotiate condom use or abstinence with partners
  • Harmful norms about the submissiveness of women to men
  • Lack of female-controlled prevention methods such as the female condom and microbicides
  • Women and girls are also more likely to bear the burden of care for those suffering from AIDS, and to suffer disproportionate stigma and discrimination themselves when their HIV positive status becomes known
  • Biological factors increase a woman's susceptibility to infection



  • Increase girls' access to primary and secondary education. One way to do so is through the elimination of primary and secondary school fees. Government officials and local partners should also increase girls' safety on the way to and from school and during school hours
  • Increase HIV prevention education for women and girls, including partner negotiation skills
  • Provide women with access to services that combine attention to HIV, reproductive health, general health, and domestic violence
  • Provide boys and men as well as girls and women with education on women's rights, including to safety and family and community decision-making
  • Bring to fruition and make available female-controlled prevention methods, such as microbicides
  • Through government policies and attention to cultural norms, improve women's human rights generally, with specific attention to property and inheritance, education, marriage, and legal accountability for rape and other forms of violence
  • Increase minimum age for marriage
  • Promote joint, voluntary, confidential HIV testing and counseling for couples



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