Women United Against AIDS Drives Action Agenda
at the International AIDS Conference

Barcelona, Spain – July 11, 2002 – Women leaders from around the world will spoke Wednesday evening at the International AIDS Conference on expanding access to effective solutions for women and girls suffering from AIDS. Women United Against AIDS, sponsored by the International AIDS Trust and UNAIDS, identified barriers female leaders face in mobilizing women throughout the world against AIDS, which is rapidly increasing in female adults and youth.

The session included a frank discussion of the challenges that specifically impact the fight against AIDS face by women in virtually every culture worldwide, including limits on reproductive rights, societal standards restricting information about sexuality and reluctance by male dominated leadership to empower and include women. A challenge was put forth to include a similar session at the next International AIDS Conference in Thailand, and to report on successes in overcoming the challenges discussed.

“It’s time to put AIDS on the global women’s health agenda, especially with the impact it is having among younger women,” stated Princess Rattana-Devi Norodom of Cambodia. “As women are especially vulnerable to HIV infection, it is incumbent upon us to actively join the fight against this disease and recognize the toll it is taking on us.”

According to the World Health Organization, of the 33.6 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, 14.8 million are women; they account for 55% of adult infections in sub-Saharan Africa, 30% in Southeast Asia, and 20% in Europe and USA.

“Whether part of the political, business or religious leaderships, women need to bring their passion, perspective, and position to the fight against AIDS. This session is an important opportunity to share views and ideas about programs that are working, and to identify strategies that need to be put in place,” commented Sandra L. Thurman, president of the International AIDS Trust, and a program participant.

In addition to Princess Norodom and Thurman, some of the influential women participating in the program included:

Kim Campbell, former PM, Canada, Chair, Council of Women World Leaders
Carol Bellamy, executive director, UNICEF
Mary Fisher, president, Mary Fisher CARE Foundation
Jeannette Kagame, First Lady of Rwanda
Maureen Mwanawasa, First Lady of Zambia
Dr. Charlotte Ndiaye, president, Society of Women Against AIDS in Africa
Geeta Rao Gupta, president, International Center for Research on Women
Nafis Sadik, United Nations Envoy for AIDS in Asia
Beatrice Were, International Community of Women Living with AIDS

The panel also included Peter Piot, UNAIDS executive director.

The International AIDS Trust was established to create strategic opportunities for galvanizing leadership, mobilizing resources, and promoting effective interventions in the global battle against AIDS. The International AIDS Trust is a single-focused NGO with both long-range vision and rapid response capability. For more information, visit the web site www.internationalaidstrust.org.

As the main advocate for global action on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS leads, strengthens and supports an expanded response aimed at preventing the transmission of HIV, providing care and support, reducing the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV/AIDS, and alleviating the impact of the epidemic. For more information, visit the web site www.unaids.org.

Contact: Peter Paris, 212-886-2200 Email: [email protected]