By Serra Sippel
Thursday, December 1, 2011
It's an odd question to ask Hillary Clinton, the Obama administration's champion for global women's reproductive rights. But where were the women in her "AIDS-free generation" speech two weeks ago? World AIDS Day is a good time to ask.
We cannot turn the tide against HIV without women. Women and our reproductive health compose the fulcrum on which the fight against HIV rests. As long as we treat the former as secondary and the latter as the plague, we are losing.
There's no argument against that, but as we've seen this year, there is plenty of well-organized political opposition. Many members of Congress are still bent on defunding family planning programs in the U.S. and overseas and thereby trampling women's access to contraception, maternal health care, cancer screenings and basic wellness exams. Some have expressed fervent opposition to any global AIDS money paying for contraception. As long as Congress insists on flooding the floor with these anti-woman, anti-reproductive health bills, the fight against HIV is a losing battle.
Clinton's speech was the first in a series of speeches that administration officials will give before the July 2012 International AIDS Conference. There scientists, medical professionals, policymakers, advocates and persons living with HIV will gather in Washington, D.C., to decide on future action against HIV.
We have less than six months to decide if we're going to fight HIV in a way that works, or let propaganda guide our policy.
This week, our organization, CHANGE, the Center for Health and Gender Equity, will deliver 2,000 postcards from concerned individuals around the world to the Obama administration, calling on decision-makers to put women at the center of U.S. global AIDS policy.
We have to start now.
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Serra Sippel is the president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) in Washington, D.C.
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