Women and HIV: A Virus Knows No gender

Join us in New York for the UN meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, Tuesday, March 11th at 2:30 pm.  Our event will be located on the 2nd Floor of the Church Center at the United Nations where we will discuss Women and HIV: A Virus Knows No Gender.

In the last decade HIV rates among women have grown tremendously.  Today, women make up 50% of those infected globally and 60% of those in sub-Saharan Africa.  Gender norms and violence against women are leading causes of this increase.

Norms related to masculinity encourage high rates of sexual activity, particularly with younger women which in some settings have resulted in high rates of HIV in women ages 15-24.  Norms related to femininity often prevent women from accessing HIV information and services.  In addition, violence against women continues to be a serious issue and is experienced by up to 60% of women around the globe causing vulnerability to HIV to be significantly increased.  Rape, sexual violence, lack of education and economic security all play a significant role in the increased HIV threat to women.

This panel will examine gender norms and various forms of violence against women in relation to the rising HIV rates for women around the world.  In addition, the panel will make recommendations for addressing and reducing HIV rates in women.

Panel Discussions

Here Media: Gender Norms, Violence, and the Rising rates of HIV in Women - Gender norms  and gender based violence are clearly linked to the rising rates of HIV in women.  Sexual assault, domestic violence, lack of education, all play a significant role in the ongoing HIV crisis for women.  Here Media will explore the the ways violence against women create a vulnerability to the virus and the direct connection between gender norms and the HIV crisis for women.  Recommendations for women’s empowerment with the goal of reducing HIV rates will be discussed.

Velva Dawson: Maternal Health and HIV - HIV is the number one cause of death among women of reproductive age globally.  In addition, this epidemic impacts women living in developing countries at a significantly higher rate.  Statistics demonstrate that 1 in 10 pregnant women worldwide are infected with HIV and 1 in 4 maternal deaths are caused by HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.  Dawson will discuss the current HIV and maternal health crisis and will offer suggestions for new female initiated prevention options.  See LINK.

Susan Rodriguez, Founding Director of SMART, was diagnosed in 1995 with HIV and has worked since 1997 as an advocate and activist for women and youth living with HIV/AIDS; co-founded SMART University (1998) to provide treatment and health education to women living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. SMART's Mobile Cooking Classroom won 2013 community to bring healthy cooking classes to in East Harlem and the South Bronx. Awards: Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader Award (2010); Union Square Award (2001). Media: Community Spokesperson/M∙A∙C AIDS Fund (2004); magazines (Glamour, Ebony, Vanity Fair); documentary, “Love in a Time of HIV: I Love NY” (2009, BBC World News & Showtime).

Aimee Utuzu: Women, HIV, and Rwanda: A Model for Sustainable Health - Rwanda has been recognized for its commitment and leadership in HIV and AIDS response.  With a focus on women’s and girls’ empowerment, Rwanda has made significant strides in moving from the HIV crisis to sustainable health.  Utuzu will discuss this model and make suggestions for adapting it in other regions around the globe in an effort to spur global sustainable health for women.

The Panel will be moderated by Gina Messina-Dysert, Ph.D. Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies at Ursuline College and National Chair of Education for American Mothers, Inc.  She earned her Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University in Women’s Studies and Religion and has more than two decades of experience working with survivors of rape and domestic violence.  She is committed to exploring women’s issues related to social justice in a global context and continues to be active in movements supporting women’s rights.  Gina blogs on a regular basis and has published multiple books and articles.  She is a widely sought after speaker and has presented across the US at universities, organizations, conferences, and in the national news circuit about matters impacting women around the world.   Connect with Gina on her website athttp://ginamessinadysert.com, Twitter @FemTheologian, or on Facebook at Gina Messina-Dysert, Ph.D.