The U.S. State Department is devoting new resources to support organizations trying to prevent gender-based violence, with a goal of reducing the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV infection.
One in three women worldwide will experience violence in her lifetime, and the number of victims runs as high as seven out of 10 in some countries, according to State Department data. Research indicates that women who experience violence may have a risk of HIV exposure up to three times greater than those not subjected to violence. Gender-based violence — GBV, in some circles — makes women too frightened to negotiate safe sexual practices, disclose HIV status and gain access to help. By those means, GBV is another social influence working negatively to spread the HIV epidemic.
State Department Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby announced a more than $4.5 million investment in small grants to local organizations that prevent and respond to GBV and are also involved in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care. Grants of up to $100,000 will flow to organizations in some of the 80 nations that are U.S. partners in trying to contain the disease.
Another March 14 announcement about the U.S. AIDS effort came out of the White House. President Obama is appointing Dr. Grant Colfax to become the director of the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP). Colfax is considered a leading public health policy expert, and is currently serving as the director of the HIV Prevention Section in the San Francisco Department of Public Health. A component of the White House Domestic Policy Council, ONAP works to reduce HIV infections across the United States and helps to coordinate the care and treatment of people with HIV/AIDS.
Colfax will also be responsible for the integration of domestic and international efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.