This week, thousands of activists, advocates, scientists, and experts are gathering in Melbourne, Australia for the International AIDS Conference. And among the hundreds of panels, exhibits, and discussions that fill the week, we’re pleased to see an expanded focus on integrating family planning and reproductive health with HIV/AIDS services.
For the past several years, PAI has been a strong advocate for integration. As you can see in the video above, too many women struggle to get the access to the comprehensive care they deserve. Often, a woman in a developing country walks and waits in line for hours to receive health care, only to be told that the clinic she’s reached cannot meet all her needs. It may provide HIV testing, but if she wants to know about contraceptive options, she’ll have to go elsewhere, or come back on a different day when that service is offered.
Why aren’t these services offered together? Sometimes it’s an issue of having enough doctors and trained health workers on staff. Other times it’s a funding issue—donors put restrictions on what types of care their money can fund. And sometimes it’s simply cultural stigma about an HIV-positive woman wanting access to family planning services.
Considering half of those infected with HIV/AIDS are women and girls (who also have sexual health needs), integrated care just makes sense. Thankfully, since we made this film two years ago, things are slowly changing for the better. With increased awareness in a key forum like the International AIDS Conference, and the continued work of civil society advocates, we can bring integrated care to its rightful place, at the front of the line.