Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) has proposed a bill that would require all HIV programs funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to address the rapid spread of infection among women and young people. This legislation, titled the PATHWAY Act of 2006, also removes earmarks in the current law requiring 33 percent of funding to go toward "abstinence-until-marriage" programs. Previously this month, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report confirmed that current PEPFAR funding restrictions undermine efforts to prevent the most HIV infections. Over 47 organizations, including the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), have given their support to Rep. Lee’s changes to this program, signaling the failure of the Bush Administration's ABC (Abstain, Be Faithful, Use Condoms) policy to address the feminization of the epidemic.
"The highest rates of new infections throughout sub-Saharan Africa are among women in their twenties and thirties and among youth aged 15-24," said Rep. Lee. To counter the changing face of the epidemic, the PATHWAY Act proposes to address violence against women, increase access to female-controlled prevention methods, and expand the educational opportunities for women and girls. In addition, the elimination of abstinence policies allows more money to be focused on issues such as the prevention of mother to child transmission.
According to the PATHWAY Act, over 38.6 million people worldwide are infected with HIV/AIDS. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women are twice as likely to become infected via vaginal intercourse than men and account for 27 percent of the new diagnoses of the disease.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .