Empower women against HIV from intimate partners says Indonesian Minister

Curbing gender disparity and increasing awareness among Indonesian women of their reproductive rights could help save them from HIV and AIDS, Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Linda Amalia Sari Gumelar has said.

“We are aware that the number of women with HIV is increasing. Women in committed relationships are vulnerable to contracting HIV if their partners also have it,” Linda said in Jakarta during the launching of the Report of HIV Transmission of Intimate Partner Relationships in Asia.

The report, published by UNAIDS, revealed that in 2006 there was a substantial increase in the number of women over 15 years old living with HIV in Indonesia as compared to the figure in 2002.

Indonesian women are among 50 million people in Asia at risk of being infected with HIV from long-term sexual partners.

“Currently it is necessary to increase programs targeting at strengthening women’s reproductive rights and the bargaining power so that they can refuse high-risk sex,” Linda said.

Irwanto, a professor from the Atmajaya University, said that it was only recently that the threat of long-term intimate relationships as possible HIV infection sources was realized.

He said a few years ago the focus had been on IDU (injection drug users). It was only recently realized that drug users were recognized to have girlfriends, wives and families, who are at high risk of contracting the disease.

Nafsiah Mboi,secretary for the National AIDS Commission, said that despite the successful campaigns on IDUs and drug use in relations the HIV, the efforts to prevent sexual transmission of HIV in the country had been much less successful.



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