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Zeroing in on women, youths' needs to achieve antiAIDS goals

The UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, acknowledged the significant progress made in reaching the goals of zero in the fight against HIV/AIDS, pointing out that the fastest way of achieving the goals is "zeroing in on meeting the sexual and reproductive health needs of all women and youth, eliminate gender inequality, gender-based violence, and discrimination and stigmatization".
 
The Zero Goals are "reaching zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths".
 
In his World AIDS Day message on 1st December, the Executive Director noted that inequalities, social exclusion, stigma, as well as discrimination continue to hinder access to life-saving services and commodities for many, including women and young people, especially those from key populations.
 
Data reveal that between 2005 and 2012, HIV-related deaths among adolescents increased by 50 per cent, while the global number of AIDS-related deaths fell by 30 per cent.
 
Furthermore, there are 6,300 people newly infected each day, almost 40 per cent are young people aged 15-24, the majority of them young women. HIV is also the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age and contributes to at least 20 per cent of maternal deaths. 
 
Every hour, 50 young women are newly infected with HIV. Adolescent pregnancy diminishes the life opportunities of girls everywhere. Every day, 20,000 girls below 18 give birth in developing countries.
 
Inadequate access to high-quality, youth-friendly HIV and sexual and reproductive health services is a major challenge. We must step up HIV prevention and access to sexual and reproductive health services, the UNFPA chief pointed out.
 
Getting to zero, Dr Osotimehin said, is about upholding the universal human right to health and well-being of everyone, including being free of HIV. "This will include a commitment to ensure that the rights and needs of all women and young people are at the heart of the global development agenda. Ensuring that everyone counts will get us to zero. Let us make it happen."
The UNFPA Executive Director also touched on HIV and violence against women. This is more important as the 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence holds from 25th November to 10th Decembrer.

"Women from key populations, such as female drug users, female sex workers and transgender women, are particularly likely to experience gender-based violence. And women and girls in conflict and disaster situations face increased vulnerability to sexual violence, which puts them at greater risk of HIV infection," he said.

Dr Babatunde Osotimehin added that "integrating sexual and reproductive health and HIV services can better ensure universal access to the information and services every person needs to make healthy choices and is key to preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections".