40 years ago the first people dying of aids were registered. At a seminar with the Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda, Prof. Marie Laga (ITM) explained how the epidemic grew at an alarming speed in the 1990s and 2000s. As it hit countries in Southern Africa, life-expectancy in countries such as Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa dropped below the level of the 1960s. Things started to change when in 1996 anti-retroviral treatment (ART) became available for people in the wealthy North. However, the drugs were unaffordable for patients living in the South. It was only thanks to activists’ campaigns that political recognition and action came about, and brought about fundamental change with the creation of international coordination through UNAIDS, and increased funding through the Global Fund and PEPFAR. This led to a rapid scale-up of people’s access to ART, standing at 2% in 2001 and amounting to 73% today. However, with 1.5 million new infections in 2020, we are not seeing ‘the end of aids’ yet and HIV prevention remains the biggest challenge.
“Macho politics uses the emotional debate and media attention generated by sexual and reproductive rights issues to appear “strong”. It uses criminalisation to persuade voters that their real problems - of insecurity, inequality, poverty, powerlessness, anger - can be solved by attacking these groups rather than by a fundamental redistribution of political and economic power”, asserted IPPF General Director Alvaro Bermejo in an exchange with the members of the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’, Belgium’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The right of women to safe abortion should be guaranteed by all countries. However, a recent study by the International Planned Parenthood Federation demonstrates that too many barriers continue to be put in place by lawmakers, civil servants and care providers in various European and Central-Asian countries.
The right to an abortion is a hot topic in Belgium, as the new figures on abortion collected by the abortion evaluation commission show. The parliament is also to discuss a new abortion bill which will be voted on soon. The legislative change would extend the period within which women are able to end their pregnancies from 12 to 18 weeks. This is the perfect moment to compare the situation with different countries in Europe.
More than 16,000 researchers, advocates, policy makers, funders and community leaders from more than 160 countries came together in Amsterdam for the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018). They are all committed to achieving a world free from HIV. These are the main takeaways:
The 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) concluded March 23rd after a long week of negotiations. The CSW is the principal global intergovernmental body dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Observers claim it was one of the most successful commissions in recent years, in terms of process and outcome. This session focused on the challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls, a population all too often disregarded and amongst those most left behind.