Dear Pleasure Promoters,
As the AIDS Conference unfurls in South Africa, AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) updates tell us that Day 3′s focus was on women and how they, particularly girls aged 15-24, are burdened most by HIV. A session called New Evidence: Why Do Young Women in Africa Have High Rates of HIV Infection? presented the results of a study conducted in a South African community showed young women [16–24 years old] are acquiring HIV from men averaging 11 years older than them. Then, once over the age of 24 and with partners closer to their age, they can end up transmitting the virus to their spouse (men aged 23-35) leading to a cycle of transmission in South Africa.
After the New Evidence session, a speaker pointed out, “We heard all about vaginas. But vaginas are attached to people…” during a session on women’s rights and health. [NB: did they need a randomised control trial to get to that ?] Concluding that it is important to use the study’s findings to discover sexual behaviours, particularly of younger women, determine how best to end this cycle, and simultaneously treat them despite the barriers they face in access to treatment.
So, what are we taking from the early days of this conference… Addressing women’s health and rights, particularly young women, remains a key component to prevention if we want to reduce HIV transmission.
TPP argues that addressing pleasure in safe sex and women’s right to pleasure empowers their ability to discuss and use condoms to help stop HIV transmission. We think empowerments ultimate indicator is the ability to know and they ask for what you know will give you pleasure. So, we hope that the AIDS Conference considers pleasure in its discussions around innovations in BCC and sex education.