2. Opening of the meeting
The meeting was opened by Dr M. H. Merson, Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s Global Programme on AIDS (GPA). In welcoming the participants, he emphasized that the pandemic is changing in many ways, including increasing rates of new HIV infection in women, who will soon comprise half of those infected. Despite this, little has been done to analyse and document interventions and programmes that specifically target women, or that target men and young people with the aim of promoting equal sharing of responsibility for reproductive health, including prevention of STD/HIV.
This meeting is a step in that direction; its purpose is to document interventions and approaches tailored to the needs of women and summarize the lessons learned; to provide information about what “works” to prevent HIV infection in women; and to provide technical advice to NGOs, service providers, and community-based workers, as well as to policy makers and the international community.
A meeting held by GPA in mid-1992 on “Effective approaches to AIDS prevention” provided an opportunity to consolidate current knowledge about HIV/AIDS prevention (e.g. peer education, mass media campaigns, and condom social marketing). The report of that meeting and the 15 ‘success stories’ presented were of great interest to NGOs, policy makers and the donor community. Similarly, it is hoped that this meeting, focused on women, will call attention not only to women’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS but, more importantly, to ways in which women can be empowered to protect themselves, including from STD/HIV.
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