On December 1st, World AIDS Day, we must take action to save women’s lives. Right now, young women are rapidly becoming the face of AIDS. Urge the President and Congress to stop abstinence-only programs that are helping to spread AIDS.

Today, women make up an ever increasing proportion of adults living with HIV/AIDS.

Globally, young adults, ages 15–24, account for approximately HALF of new adult HIV infections
Most of those young adults are WOMEN – 62% worldwide
In sub-Saharan Africa, 76% of HIV+ young adults are WOMEN
In some developing countries, infection rates are up to six times higher among young women than young men.
These statistics are shocking, but real. Act now.

We can make a difference. The U.S. PEPFAR program first initiated under the Bush Administration still has a bias for abstinence-only programs. President Obama reduced this bias, but it is still in the legislation. Approximately half of all PEPFAR money goes to treat those with AIDS, but the prevention funds strongly favor abstinence/be faithful programs over all others.

Urge Congress and the President to fight AIDS with science and medicine, not ideology.

Condoms must not be an afterthought. Right now, the PEPFAR policy of ABC emphasizes abstinence first, be faithful second, and condoms last. Currently, young married women are the fastest growing segment of AIDS victims in sub-Saharan Africa. Condoms must be prioritized first.

Abstinence only has proved to be ineffectual and harmful. It casts doubt on the use of condoms, which have proven to be the first line of defense against AIDS. Ask President Obama and Congress to end abstinence-only programs under PEPFAR now.

For Women’s Lives,

Eleanor Smeal
Feminist Majority Foundation