TB/HIV Care has joined a working group, headed by Sonke Gender Justice, aimed at lobbying the Ministry of Women to design, fund and implement a plan to combat gender-based violence, similar to the plan that has been devised to respond to the HIV and TB epidemics; the National Strategic Plan for HIV, STIs and TB.
The group is calling for co-ordinated, concrete actions to be taken against gender-based violence rather than the ‘lip-service’ paid to the issue during the 16 days of activism campaign.
But what does gender-based violence have to do with HIV? Gender-based violence has been identified as a driver of the HIV epidemic by South Africa’s National Strategic Plan for HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and TB 2012-2016. Studies published by the Medical Research Council (MRC) suggest that women with violent or controlling partners are at greater risk of HIV infection. The MRC’s Rachel Jewkes has found that 12% of HIV cases among women were associated with more than one case of violence from an intimate partner. Another Tanzanian study found that HIV-positive women (18–29 years) were ten times more likely than HIV-negative women of a similar age to report partner violence.
TB/HIV Care supported a collective action by the working group on Wednesday, the 10th December. In Johannesburg a petition was handed to Minister of Women’s Affairs, Susan Shabangu, calling on her to take action. At the same time in Cape Town, groups gathered at bridges with banners and posters asking people to hoot their support and participate in a letter-writing campaign to the Minister expressing their ideas for the proposed national strategic plan.