By: Lindsay Menard-Freeman, Women Deliver
Women Deliver and the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) convened a prestigious panel last Wednesday during the 19th International AIDS Conference, held in Washington DC from July 22-27, 2012. The goal of the satellite session was to spur an interactive dialogue about the links between HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) programs, services and policies.
The panel included the following speakers:
- Dr. Carmen Barroso, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Weathern Hemisphere Region
- Dr. Helen Rees, Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute
- Dr. Zeda Rosenberg, IPM
- Dr. Nono Simelela, Office of the Presidency, South Africa
- Ms. Kikelomo Taiwo, Education as a Vaccine and Advocates for Youth
- Dr. John Townsend, Population Council
- Mitchell Warren, AVAC – Moderator
After opening remarks by Vanita Gowda of Women Deliver, Mr. Warren kicked of the discussion by asking the panelists to discuss why they think integration is important.
Dr. Barroso reminded the group that women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services is a basic human right and integration must respond to women’s needs and realities. By integrating HIV and sexual and reproductive health services, women’s health is treated more holistically and efficiently. This must be at the center of a discussion about integration.
In response to a question about the impact of integration on young women, Kikelomo Taiwo stated that while integration means that young people have a one-stop-shop when it comes to services and resources, it can sometimes mean that there are longer wait times at clinics and service providers. Also, many health providers are not receptive to providing sexual health services to young people, and that needs to change.
Dr. Townsend took this one step further, and said that we expect community health workers to bear the burden of increasing services. We need to look at networks and communities in tandem, how they work together to improve services and how we can support them to deliver high quality services that respond fully to women’s needs.
Dr. Rosenberg raised the issue of dual-prevention technology and the role the scientific community can play in integration, drawing specific attention to a dual-purpose ring for both HIV and pregnancy prevention. As the need for integration evolves, so should the technology.
South Africa is experiencing a double-burden of high rates of HIV infection as well as sexual and reproductive health challenges. Dr. Simelela highlighted the need to support health care workers to more effectively meet the health needs of women, stating that we need to empower them to make integration a reality globally.
Once questions were opened up to the audience, several questions were raised about the challenges of integration. Representatives from DFID, Irish Aid, USAID, Pathfinder, IPPF Country Office reps, Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS and others brought questions to the table, including one about the inclusion of young people in the future of integration within the HIV response. Dr. Barroso responded by saying that young people must be included in the movement so that the have a voice in decision-making and policies and aren't overlooked.
In her closing remarks, Dr. Rees summarized the key priorities on the road to integration. She identified a focus on human rights of women first and foremost, which is often meets a hostile environment. We must start with what works for women and ensure that the have choices in services and commodities. And while integration makes economic sense, we must ensure that health systems and workers adjust so that they are not under further pressure.
Click here to view our factsheet on integration.