17 Jul 2007

Nairobi talks to help fight spread of HIV among Pacific women

3:32 pm on 17 July 2007

The YWCA's Pacific members have met the Pacific Islands Aids Foundation chief executive Maire Bopp in Nairobi to offer their support for intervention programmes, particularly those targeting young women.

The Nairobi Conference on Women and Aids is gaining significance as the first global acknowledgment of women's vulnerability to HIV.

Maire Bopp says the YWCA's commitment to preventing the spread of the virus in the Pacific is another reason for optimism that the region can learn from, and avoid, the terrible suffering experienced by African nations.

She says her organisation's Aids Ambassador programme is one project which could be shared with the YWCA Pacific.

"All the positive people we have trained, and in particular women in this instance, could look at the YWCA as a relay to help them reach out to the community and raise awareness and reduce the stigma and discrimination. If we are all able to concentrate on stigma and discrimination it would make such a big difference in our efforts to prevent the spread of HIV."

The World Health Organisation estimates that 17 million women and girls live with HIV.

In the Pacific, infection rates among women are rising dramatically.