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HIV/AIDS leading cause of death in women, UN says

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Ahead of the United Nations conference taking place in New York, UNAIDS has announced a shocking statistic alongside a plan of action. According to the UN, the leading global cause of death for women of a reproductive age, is HIV/AIDS.

The issue that needs to be addresses here is gender equality, UNAIDS says, with AIDS services are not responding to the needs of women, who are “disproportionately” affected by HIV/AIDS.

According to the UN, women in South Africa, for example, are three times as likely to contract HIV than men. A high rate of sexual violence also contributes to the spread of the disease. Seventy percent of women the world over are forced to have unprotected sex, BBC reports.

Annie Lennox

UNAIDS Ambassador and singer Annie Lennox supports the move for gender equality.

“Women are the face (of HIV/AIDS) now. Stigma runs from the very top echelons of society, all the way down to the poor,” CNN quotes her as saying. “(The women) have to be able to come out of the shadows, and we must represent them.”

Celebrities who have been diagnosed with HIV include basketball star Magic Johnson and entertainer Liberace.

Images: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HIV-budding-Color.jpg; by: C. Goldsmith AND PR Photos

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