Why AIDS work should tackle male behaviour and female poverty

 HIV/AIDS work needs to focus on changing ingrained male attitudes and sexual behaviour as well as the poverty and customs that make women in many countries powerless to negotiate sex - a Catholic development worker said recently. Catherine Scott, programme manager with the Catholic Institute for International Relations, was addressing the parish of St Margaret's, in Twickenham, west London. She said that concern was increasing about the plight of many women who have had only one sexual partner and yet have HIV/AIDS owing to the high-risk behaviour of their partner. "In many countries, men decide when and where sex takes place, while women have no say in the matter," she said. Scott dedicated her talk to Brigitte Syamalevwe, a Catholic mother of ten who spoke at CIIR's annual general meeting in October 2002. She has since died of an Aids-related illness. Scott said: "Brigitte showed us how women are not just victims, but how they can stand up and defy death and organise care for the widows and orphans left behind." The meeting also discussed the role of the church, and in particular how CIIR has called for a holistic response to the pandemic that "takes account of where people are, rather than where church authority figures might expect them to be," Scott said. She displayed a picture of Bishop Kevin Dowling embracing Brigitte at CIIR's HIV-AIDS conference just after the annual general meeting. She ended with a quote from Brigitte: "It is only the person who is living the situation who understands best what he or she needs. It is a daring position for CIIR to say we dare to consult the unconsulted, we dare to listen to the voices which are not listened to... This is the beauty of a revival within the human spirit: to say we are one humanity and we need to participate and break the bread together and share it for the greater good of all of us." Source: CIIR

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