Thèmes et resources

Addressing the vulnerability of young women & girls to stop the HIV epidemic in southern Africa

The UNAIDS regional report looks at the vulnerability of women and girls in Southern Africa to HIV. Almost two-thirds of all young people with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa where about 75% of all infections among young people aged 15 to 24 years are among young women. Responding to the need to understand why young women and girls living in countries in this region are so vulnerable to HIV infection, UNAIDS and the Reproductive Health and HIV Research Unit of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa convened an expert technical meeting in June 2008.

The report reflects the outcomes of that meeting and explores some of the factors that are driving the current epidemic in southern Africa. These include the practice of age disparate and intergenerational sex; biological vulnerability of young women; economic empowerment; education and gender-based violence. A final paper examines the complex interaction between environmental factors and individual choices, behaviours and community norms.

Improved analyses of these factors will enable appropriate and evidence-informed responses to these specific challenges that increase vulnerability of young women and girls in the region.

Social transformation Meeting participants called for a social movement to address the drivers that contribute to the risk of HIV infection in the region. Addressing human rights violations, harmful social norms, weak community and leadership capacities are seen as some of the fundamental steps to tackle the vulnerability of young women and girls to HIV in southern Africa. (December 2008)

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