Rape speeds up the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa
Arizona Daily Star:
Nearly half of all girls in some African countries are raped, an advocacy group said Thursday in a report sharply criticizing existing programs aimed at curbing violence to help stop the spread of AIDS.
"Like HIV/AIDS, violence is taking place on an epidemic scale, and as that occurs, it fuels the HIV/AIDS pandemic," said Lisa Schechtman, lead author of the report by the Washington-based Global AIDS Alliance.
Speaking at the 16th International Conference on AIDS, Schechtman said global donors needed to stop looking at violence as separate from AIDS.
Studies showing rampant levels of violence against women and children — much of it sexual in nature and particularly common in several east African countries — prompted the group to urge donors to take a more social approach.
According to studies cited by the group, nearly half the girls have been raped in Uganda, and the rate is also extremely high in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Other surveys show links between violence and the AIDS epidemic; women who have experienced violence may be up to three times as likely to get HIV.
Groups such as the World Bank, the U.N. AIDS agency and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief have promised to address the issue. But Global AIDS Alliance said the pledges have been inadequate and little work has been done.
"For African women, we go through violence throughout our life cycle," Mary Wandia, women's right's coordinator for the the South Africa-based anti-poverty group Action Aid, told a news conference.
The Global AIDS Alliance said political leaders and donor groups must spend at least $2 billion a year to combat attacks on women and children.
Paul Zeitz, the group's executive director, said more laws are needed to criminalize violence against women and children, along with health and education reform, and the establishment of community task forces to fight violence.
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