The African Health Policy Network launched a Call to Action on the rights and needs of African women living with HIV in the UK, on International Women’s Day Friday 8th March 2013.
The Call to Action emerged from the work of African women living with and affected by HIV who came together to organise a conference in September 2012 to call for greater recognition of their specific needs, for these needs to be prioritised, and for improved funding and services to meet these needs. The conference, organised by the African Health Policy Network, and sponsored by an educational grant from AbbVie, recognised the unique needs and experiences of African women living with HIV.
The women leaders attending the conference called for their greater meaningful involvement in all decisions affecting them, through embracing the principle of no decision about me without me.
African women in the UK are disproportionately affected by HIV. The Health Protection Agency statistics on HIV in the UK at the end of 2011 show that:
• An estimated 20,300 African-born women were living with HIV.
• HIV prevalence among black African women in the UK is 50 per 1000.
• Late diagnosis of HIV in black African women is the second highest rate, at 61%.
• Around twice as many African women as men are diagnosed with HIV every year.
• HIV prevalence among pregnant women was highest in African-born women at 23 per 1000.
The Call includes three demands:
1) a gender-specific approach to HIV treatment and support that meets women’s changing needs at different stages of their lives.
2) support and services that recognise the specific challenges and unique experiences of African women.
3) greater involvement of African women living with HIV, in all areas and at all levels including design, implementation and leadership.