This week, 18,000 people will gather in Durban, South Africa for the 2016 International AIDS Conference. It’s the largest conference on any global health or development issue in the world, and this year marks its return to Durban for the first time since 2000. The progress that’s been made in that time is undeniable, and worthy of celebration. In 2000, fewer than 700,000 people received antiretroviral medicines; today, 15 million people have access to this lifesaving treatment, and HIV infections have declined 35 percent.
But it’s far too soon to declare victory on this pandemic; there’s a lot to be done. Many of the obstacles that stood in the way of effective prevention and treatment in 2000 stand there, stubbornly, still in our way today.
There is a seemingly endless list of pressing items to discuss in Durban this week. There are many groups of people marginalized and under-prioritized in our current global response. But the AIDS-free world that everyone attending or following the conference this week feels so passionately about achieving is only possible if we address the issues affecting women and girls around the world. It is only possible if we work together to #EndHIV4Her.
The International AIDS Conference offers the opportunity to re-energise, refocus and recommit.
Here are several reasons why it is imperative that there be a focus on women and girls:
“Girls and women have always been been part of the conversation, but now, here at AIDS 2016, ending HIV for girls and women is at the top of the agenda.” – Dr. Timothy Mastro, FHI 360 @
“Ending AIDS will only be possible through fulfilling the sexual and reproductive rights of young people. This conference is important through providing a space for the voices of girls and young women to be heard. It creates an avenue for action, where youth can lead the way for change. Now, we need to let them lead.” – Julia Wiklander, Girls’ Globe @
“There are going to be a lot of things in conversation at this conference that can really catalyse ideas to make a difference in the lives of women and girls. We have to take risks, we have to engage in communities and we have to be willing to try new things that didn’t seem feasible ten years ago.” – Patrick McCrummen, Johnson & Johnson
Girls’ Globe is present at the 2016 International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa (17-22nd of July). Follow us on social media and by using the hashtag #EndHIV4Her for inspiring blog posts, interviews and updates!