Keep the Promise - Fight AIDS

World AIDS Day
1 December 2005


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Every day nearly 1,800 children contract HIV, principally from mother-to-child transmission, and 1,400 children under the age of 15 die of AIDS-related illness, according to UNICEF. Of the estimated 40.3 million people worldwide living with HIV in 2005, 17.5 million are women and 2.3 million are under the age of 15.

Women are heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS reports that women in Sub-Saharan Africa are 30 per cent more likely to be infected with HIV than men, and women in the 15 to 24 age range are 3.4 times as likely to be HIV positive. This is due, among other factors, to non-monogamous relationships, sexual violence and cultural stigma against women getting tested and receiving treatment. An HIV-positive woman may be denied treatment, rejected by her family or have her property seized. Women are also often expected to care for their ill family members, often leaving work or dropping out of school.

Children are also largely affected. The numbers of children born with HIV due to mother-to-child transmission, as well as the numbers of adolescents contracting the virus, are increasing every year. In Botswana the child mortality rate with AIDS is 106 deaths per 1,000 live births, as opposed to 41.9 deaths per 1,000 live births without AIDS.

What is WAGGGS doing?

WAGGGS is focusing on four main areas in the fight against HIV/AIDS: 

  • Tackling the root causes of HIV/AIDS by enacting education and awareness projects run by WAGGGS’ Member Organizations to help women and girls take control of their sexual health. 
  • Forming international cooperation strategies with organizations such as ICASO and UNAIDS. WAGGGS is also part of the Alliance of Youth CEOs, an alliance of the six largest youth organizations, which is currently running and AIDS project in Africa.
  • Working on girls’ and women’s advocacy, focusing on the rights of girls and women to education and on the necessity of decision-making and leadership skills.
  • Looking to the future; the WAGGGS World Board identified HIV/AIDS and adolescent health as one of three advocacy priorities.