Women hold up half the sky - and half the burden of the HIV epidemic

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It has been said that women hold up half the sky. In the HIV epidemic, women carry half the burden of the epidemic, perhaps even more. The HIV burden on women is dramatically higher in some regions, certain age groups and among marginalized groups, such as female sex workers. Women's vulnerability to HIV is exacerbated by gender inequality and domestic violence. The global effort towards elimination of paediatric HIV and keeping mothers alive deserves applause. However, the needs of women go beyond their child-bearing age or potentials and/or reproductive desires and must be recognized in the global HIV agenda. In particular, more female-controlled prevention tools are urgently required to allow women to protect themselves. It is time to turn the tide through promoting gender equality and genuinely committing to gender-responsive policies and programmes, and encouraging a more gender-aware research agenda that can generate necessary evidence. In recognition of International Women's Day, the Journal of the International AIDS Society is pleased to launch a thematic series to highlight articles that address the different dimensions of HIV as they relate to women.

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