Women at the Frontline of the AIDS Response

Archive ID: 2006_women_at_the_frontline_of_the_aids_response

This film is about women from different parts of the world who are active in the HIV activist movement. They discuss gender inequality and the exposed situation of women and girls and explain the educational and empowering work which they are doing in their communities.


Talking about women's role in HIV/AIDS,
we should talk about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women.
Most of the housewives get infection from their husbands.
When you tell your husband, let's use a condom,
men of today, they refuse.
There are lots of young people who
know little or nothing about HIV-- its effects, causes,
and how it is spread.
Young people who are infected with HIV
are afraid to speak out, because they fear discrimination.
I think you can change human sexual behavior
by educating people about the risks
and how they can protect themselves.
We need a movement around prevention.
Many of our political leaders would not to utter the word sex
on a television camera.
They do it now.
There is an absolute need to include a gender equality
component in every program on HIV/AIDS prevention.
Women can play incredible role in mobilizing
for the fight against HIV/AIDS.

It's a call-in program.
And young people call in on the program.
And they ask questions.
They want to know information about HIV.
They want to know how it is spread.
So some people think you can get it
by touching an infected person.
You can get it by hugging an infected person.
My responses that I've gotten shows
that there are lots of young people who know little
or nothing about HIV-- its effects, causes,
and how it is spread.

This is the streets of Sandtown, the neighborhood where
I was born and raised.
I've come back to hopefully make a change in my community.
The Sandtown community right here, where we are,
is the highest infected neighborhood in Baltimore City.
And something needs to be done.
And they are not getting the message.
They're still having unprotected sex.
They're still sharing needles.
I work for the Institute of Human Virology,
a program called The Jacques Initiative Program.
And it's to help people to do well
with taking their HIV meds.
And I just give them a shot of hope.
I let them know that I come from the same background
that you come from.
There is life after diagnosis.
No one can look at me and tell that I am AIDS defiant.
And I just basically want to show them
how to live and to live well with HIV.

I know that it is very difficult to live with HIV/AIDS in Russia
because stigma and discrimination affect
their lives.
And they usually try to hide their HIV status,
not to be fired from their work, to be excluded
from their families, and to get isolated
from their whole society.



Through generation, we haven't addressed this issue
of gender inequality.
And it continues to remain the same.
And it's time to change that equation, I feel.
And it is total HIV.
To me, I think, HIV has given that opportunity
to change the dynamics, and to change that inequality,
and bring more men and women together.

If you look at gentlemen and generally women,
we have to come across cultural context
and also what happening in the community in traditional way.
So we have to influence the parent as well
to building enabling environment,
that they understand that young people really need access
to the important information about reproductive and sexual

Thumbs up!
Knees together!
Knees together!
Toes together!
Toes together!
Thumbs up!
Thumbs up!
Juka jaiya.
A juka jaiya.
A juka jaiya.
A juka jaiya.
Thumbs up!
It is definitely, definitely, important
to involve young people in the fight against AIDS.

Do you guys break the ground as ground breakers?
So explain to me what exactly--
Young people who are infected with HIV
are afraid to speak out, because they fear discrimination.
That way, they live and die with the disease alone.
Therein again-- more and more people are being infected,
and we don't know about it.
Because they're afraid to speak out.
That must stop.
Because the only way we're going to stop this epidemic is
if people are allowed, and free, and open,
to speak about the disease.

Right now, as a positive living-- women here in Africa
today-- I'm doing surveying on these sex workers, aged 15
and 30 years.
So we want to make up a meeting so that we call them.
They should stop this-- what they're doing--
but we want to motivate them.
We'll be giving them loans, and we'll
be taking them to trainings.
Maybe some, they would like business.
We'll be assisting them in business management.


I don't know what is it my passion.
All I have, that is just a vision.
But my address is carpe diem.
Days are bright only when you feel them.


We need a movement around prevention.
We need people that are going to be coming up
with innovative ways of educating others
around the risk of HIV.
We need people that are going to help us to understand
the science of prevention.
We need to get people-- researchers--
to talk to us about other modes that we
can use around prevention.

As a student, I became interested in HIV/AIDS
with the realization that this disease is not just
a biological phenomenon.
It's a biosocial disease that is so intertwined with poverty.
It's intertwined with stigma.
I see myself as learning as much as I can
and understanding all the roots biologically, socially,
what's being done, and understanding how I can best
contribute is just to get out there and do what I can do,
and do things as best as I can do them.

There is a need to build a link between HIV/AIDS prevention
and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
And that is especially important for women and girls--
if we should be able to do good preventive
work all over the world.

There is a global need for women controlled contraceptives.
Microbiocide is such a contraceptive.
It will be an enormous progress in order
to fight HIV/AIDS if that would be available to every woman who
wants it in the world.

The key message in prevention is that we can do it.
We know enough.
There's enough evidence.
We've learned a lot in the last 20 years.
We can do it.
What we need is the political will,
because we're dealing with sensitive issues.
And secondly, what we need is to scale up programs.
Right now we have small boutique programs
in many parts of the world.
They're not enough to make an impact.



It's very important that women are fully engaged
with the fight against HIV/AIDS and have
information-- access to condoms--
but also not just male condoms, but also female condoms.
It's really very important, particularly married women,
whom in the dark are confined in their homes.
They don't have access to information.
It is critical-- womens and girls--
that this information and prevention
work reach out to them.
I would say that in most situations,
the women-- married women-- are in probably one of the worst
conditions of vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.
And this needs to be tackled.