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Access To Comprehensive Reproductive Health Services Necessary To Reach AIDS-Free Generation

In a Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece, Ambassador Eric Goosby, head of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Global Health Diplomacy and the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé discuss progress (.pdf) made on the “Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive” (Global Plan). “During the first three years of implementing the Global Plan, we have seen a tremendous increase in the percentage of women in the priority countries receiving [antiretroviral therapy (ART)] for their own health as part of [prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT)] programs,” they write, noting, “Another important achievement of the Global Plan has been the adoption of task-shifting policies allowing nurses to initiate ART for eligible pregnant women.”

“However, here too there is more work to be done. For example, the Global Plan calls for programs to help all women improve their overall reproductive wellbeing, including avoiding unintended pregnancies,” Goosby and Sidibé state, noting data on maternal mortality. “The PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation [.pdf] reflects a strong focus on women, girls and gender equality,” and “UNAIDS continues to champion efforts to address the persistent gender inequalities and human rights violations that put women and girls at a greater risk of HIV,” they write. “Collectively, we will continue to press forward toward the overall goal of reducing the number of women and girls acquiring HIV infection and ensuring all people living with HIV who are eligible for ART have access to it,” the authors write, concluding, “Women and girls — whether or not they are mothers — need access to comprehensive reproductive health services, including HIV prevention, treatment and care if we are to truly create an AIDS-free generation” (7/23).