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    10 reasons why women need an HIV vaccine - and are fighting to create one

    AIDS-related illnesses remain a leading cause of death for women. On International Women’s Day, here’s 10 reasons why developing an HIV vaccine would benefit women and girls around the world.

    1. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly two-thirds of all AIDS-related deaths and new HIV infections occur, women account for 60% of people living with HIV - and every week 7,000 young women, aged 15-24, are newly infected with HIV.

    2. Women are more vulnerable to HIV infection. Not only biologically but also: in many places, child marriage, limited power to negotiate condom use, gender-based violence, and other legal, social and economic barriers affect the ability of women – particularly young women - to independently protect themselves from HIV infection

    3. If women get infected, their access to testing and treatment is still limited in many places. Despite progress, only half of people living with HIV are currently on treatment.

    4. AIDS-related illnesses remain the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age (aged 15 to 44) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    5. The number of young people in Africa is set to increase substantially, which means that the number of women and girls living with HIV is likely to rise even further in the future. We aren’t making progress fast enough.

    6. But new HIV prevention technologies, notably a vaccine, could offer long-term protection from HIV, regardless of income, relationship status and other potential barriers.

    7. Vaccines for other diseases currently save between 2 and 3 million lives every year, making them one of the most successful and cost-effective health tools in history; and children in developing countries now have greater access to vaccines than almost any other health intervention, with boys and girls being reached at equal levels globally. Given the impact of HIV on young people, particularly young women, a preventive vaccine that is made widely available could help make significant progress in addressing HIV.

    8. Importantly, we must provide women with methods of prevention that suit their lifestyle and needs over lifetime, especially during their adolescent years. A vaccine that suits the lifestyle of as many women as possible would be a great addition to the HIV response.

    9. Future HIV vaccines could be distributed as part of broader public health campaigns and sexual health and family planning efforts. In the meantime, vaccine research programmes can help improve knowledge about sexual health and support improved access to HIV prevention and other health services.

    10. And women are leaders in vaccine research programmes - many scientists and clinicians working to develop an HIV vaccine are women. In fact, women are on the frontline of efforts to address HIV and in the process they are bolstering research capacity and expertise as well as advocating for more inclusive research and health policies.