Very few people know that HIV/AIDS is the world's leading cause of death among women of reproductive age. The disease takes a massive toll on the lives and potential of millions of women, their families, communities and economies.
Biological reasons make women more susceptible to HIV. Women's access to information on prevention, treatment and the ability to negotiate safe sex is limited. Gender inequality in the highly affected areas is the main reason for the disease to be endemic.
For example, in South Africa, nearly 1 in 7 cases of HIV in women were found to be due to sexual violence. Poverty forces many women into the sex trade and decreases their power to their access HIV prevention and treatment.
An AIDS vaccine would empower women to fight against the deadly disease and will be a powerful tool to help women redress some of these lethal imbalances in sexual and gender dynamics. Women will be able to protect themselves if the vaccine is administered before exposure to the virus and invisible to partners and peers.
Scientists, medical professionals, advocates and participants in clinical trials mainly women are in the effort to bring the world a vaccine for AIDS.