Nobel Prize winner Françoise Barré-Sinoussi stresses gender in HIV’s response


nobel prize


Ha Noi, January 17, 2018 – Today, Professor Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who was awarded the Nobel prize in 2008 for co-discovering HIV, and other experts highlighted the importance of mainstreaming gender in Viet Nam's HIV response programmes at a national conference held in Ha Noi.


Viet Nam is committed to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030, and has demonstrated political leadership and commitment to join global efforts to address gender inequality and HIV. However, according to the recent study named "The Gender Assessment of Viet Nam's HIV response" conducted by Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC) and UN Women, the gender equality commitments have yet to be translated into HIV policies, programmes and budgets, while the current national response to HIV has failed to adequately respond to the diverse needs and rights of key HIV affected women and girls. Further, there is a lack of civil society engagement in HIV policy development and its implementation, particularly women's groups representing women living with HIV.

Opening the workshop, Ms. Elisa Fernandez, UN Women Head of Office said "Key HIV affected women and girls are facing gaps and constraints in accessing prevention, treatment, as well as care and support services. Women, particularly those most affected by the epidemic, largely remain on the margins of policy and decision-making spaces. These are reasons behind the rise in the propotion of reported cases of women living with HIV from 24% in 2007 to 33% in 2014 in Viet Nam."

"To achieve gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, HIV response needs to focus on four areas. First, reduce the numbers of adolescent girls and young women newly infected with HIV. Second, improve access to sexual and reproductive health and HIV services. Third, empower women and girls in all their diversity by investing in women's leadership in HIV response", she added.

Speaking at the workshop, Professor Françoise Barré-Sinouss, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2008 for co-discovering HIV, made a speech on the HIV burdens of women and girls, the structural, behavioral and biological vulnerabilities, as well as the need for multiple responses. She stressed that "one of the most important strategies, as a lesson learnt of many other countries after years fighting against the HIV epidemic, was to guarantee women's engagement in all levels and stages of the preventing and responding process". Moreover, she also stated the need for men and boys to play a more active role in empowering women and girls to protect themselves from infection, overcome stigmas, and gain access to treatment and care.

At this half-day event, more than 80 participants from governmental agencies, international organizations, the academia, civil soceity, the network of women living with HIV and other stakeholders discussed key findings of the gender assessment of Viet Nam's HIV response as well as identified gaps and challenges in mainstreaming gender equality and women empowerment in the national HIV response, and from that on, provided a set of recommendations to improve HIV policies and programmes.


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