Strengthening sexual and reproductive health actions in AIDS policies

Between February 2007 and June 2008, Gestos, with support from the Ford Foundation, among other partners, acted upon to consolidate the formation of a network of sixteen countries, from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe, with the objective of monitoring and evaluating public policies of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women with HIV/AIDS.

There was a total of 433 groups and national advocacy networks of the Women’s, AIDS’ and Human Rights’ movements that acted politically on the issue, having as reference the monitoring of the Declaration of Commitment signed at UNGASS-AIDS 2001.

The results of the experience were systematized at Monitoring the UNGASS-AIDS Goals on Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health comparative report, launched at the UNGASS-AIDS review meeting, June 2008, New York. The Comparative Report was sent officially to UNAIDS as a civil society shadow report. According to the then UNAIDS Executive Director, Dr Peter Piot, “this was the only document produced for UNGASS-AIDS that deals with critical questions to sexual and reproductive health of women living with HIV/AIDS or in a vulnerable situation.”

Ms Alessandra Nilo, Coordinator of the Political Pedagogical Program of Gestos, announced that, in the period of 2009–2011, besides articulating with the partners network to participate in the national processes of monitoring UNGASS-AIDS, the main strategy will be to design advocacy plans in each one of the countries aiming at including sexual and reproductive health as a priority axis in the National AIDS Plans. “The objective is to include the issue of the interface of sexual and reproductive health and AIDS in the political agendas in the countries participating in the project; in the moments of UN reviewing Universal Access, in the strategies of monitoring International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+15) and the IV Women Conference (Beijing+15), as well as the next International AIDS Conference, to be held in Vienna in 2010.” Concludes her with what it seems her monitoring advocacy mantra.

Because of budget constraint, not all countries that participated in the first phase of the project will participate in the second phase. Raising funds in a time of economic crisis has become ever more difficult. In the new phases the countries where there will be UNGASS-AIDS Forum: Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health are: Argentina, Brazil, Uruguai, Peru, Nicaragua, Belize, Indonesia, Ukraine, Thailand,  South Africa, Kenya and Uganda.

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One Response to Strengthening sexual and reproductive health actions in AIDS policies

  1. Rukia says:

    we UNGASS-Kenya groups women represented would support-my name is Rukia

    HIV is a sexual and reproductive health issue, both because sexual transmission is the greatest cause of new infections, and because women living with HIV have urgent reproductive health needs, including the need to avoid unwanted pregnancy or prevent HIV transmission to any children they wish to bear. By failing to require strong linkages among maternal health, family planning and HIV interventions, PEPFAR has missed countless opportunities to improve the health and save lives.

    U.S. global AIDS policy should promote full integration of HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health services. User-based integration of these services is paramount because:

    * Integration addresses the needs of women and girls who are at high risk of both HIV infection and unwanted pregnancy.

    * Bringing related services together under one roof reduces the burden for those seeking care, greatly increasing the likelihood that they will get the care they need.

    * Where co-location of services is impractical, designing seamless referral systems ensures that users find appropriate care with minimal effort and cost.

    * Integrating services can reduce costs for governments and donors by avoiding duplication of infrastructure and overhead.

    * Thinking about people as whole human beings who have a range of sexual and reproductive health needs just makes sense.

    Until recently, despite recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S.-funded operational research, and even the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC), decision makers have not fully recognized the importance of strengthening and linking health services that provide multiple benefits – including sexual and reproductive health services and HIV prevention.

    However, the U.S. government is beginning to shift toward an integrated approach. The Obama administration’s Global Health Initiative frames a robust HIV/AIDS response within the larger global health context, promising an approach that integrates HIV/AIDS within sexual and reproductive health. Moreover, on December 1, 2009, Ambassador Goosby released PEPFAR’s five-year strategy, which indicated that a key goal is to expand integration of HIV prevention, care, support, and treatment services with family planning and other reproductive health services. CHANGE is encouraged by these developments and will continue to monitor implementation to ensure that it meets the needs and protects the rights of women and girls.

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