World AIDS Day 2021: End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics.

Ending gender inequality and sexual violence to create a safer, AIDS-free future

By Natalie Brown, Communications Officer, Together for Girls

On December 1, we honor World AIDS Day, a day to show support for those living with HIV and to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses. It’s also a day to  increase awareness of the impact of HIV on people’s lives and to end stigma and discrimination against those living with HIV.

 

The World AIDS Day 2021 theme is “End Inequality. End AIDS. End Pandemics.” By ending gender inequality and the silent pandemic of sexual violence against children and adolescents, we can create a safer, AIDS-free future.

 

Sexual violence and its impacts is something that we can all work together to change. Below are interventions that support survivors and help to prevent sexual violence in order to create an AIDS-free future.

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The intersection of sexual violence against girls and HIV

Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) data show that girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa are disproportionately affected by HIV and also experience high rates of sexual violence. It also shows that experiencing sexual violence both directly and indirectly increases one’s risk of contracting HIV. Learn more about the intersection of these two issues in this fact sheet, produced in collaboration with PEPFAR.

Solutions to prevent sexual violence and support adolesent girls and young women living with HIV/AIDS

Every Hour Matters

Together for Girls created a campaign, Every Hour Matters, to help raise awareness of the importance of quickly accessing post-rape care and call on national and community leaders to ensure comprehensive services are available in all communities. To learn more about post-rape care and take action to support survivors, explore the resources.

Education Plus Initiative

The Education Plus Initiative is a joint initiative of UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women working to accelerate action and investments to effectively prevent HIV, centered on the empowerment of adolescent girls and young women and the achievement of gender equality in sub-Saharan Africa. Learn more about Education Plus or read the FAQs to understand the link between education and HIV.

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DREAMS

Across sub-Saharan Africa, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)’s DREAMS partnership is supporting young women to lead healthy, AIDS-free and safe lives. PEPFAR, a Together for Girls partner, created DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe) to use a holistic approach to reduce rates of HIV infection and gender-based violence among adolescent girls and young women ages 10-24. Explore our “Girls who Dream” stories to learn more about the individual lives impacted by DREAMS in Kenya.

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“I was in a place where I could not be seen but I am now visible.” – Sheila

The SASA! Initiative

Sasa is a Kiswahili word that means “now”. Now is the time to prevent violence against women and its connection to HIV/AIDS. We all have the power to act!

 

The SASA! Initiative in Uganda, developed by Raising Voices, is a social norms community mobilization program that seeks to change community attitudes, norms and behaviors around gender, violence and the risk of and vulnerability to HIV infection among women. SASA! was featured in our What Works To Prevent Sexual Violence Against Children evidence review.

 

Research shows that SASA! can lead to a significant decrease in the experience and perpetration of physical intimate partner violence in intervention communities.

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Together we can create a safer, AIDS-free future

As we honor World AIDS Day, we must recognize that there is a link between sexual violence and HIV for many women and girls. By sharing information and resources on the impacts of sexual violence and post-rape care, and by implementing evidence-based solutions to prevent violence, together we can help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic and create a safer, AIDS-free future.   

 

Together for Girls’ partner, UNAIDS, is leading the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. For more information and resources on responding to HIV/AIDS and supporting those living with HIV on World AIDS Day, learn the facts about HIV/AIDS and explore the stories of HIV survivors.

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