The Global Coalition for Women and AIDS and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS marked World Human Rights Day on Friday with campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the links between gender-based violence and the spread of HIV. Violence, particularly rape, puts women at increased risk for contracting the virus through vaginal or anal tearing and bleeding, which opens portals through which HIV can easily enter, according to a report by UNAIDS. "Not only does forced sex make women more liable to infection, but the fear of violent male reactions--physical and psychological--prevents many women from going to find out more about HIV," said UNAIDS executive director Peter Piot. "It discourages them from getting tested and stops them [from] seeking treatment."
The World Health Organization and the Federation International Football Association also marked Human Rights Day by announcing a collaboration to fight HIV-related stigma and discrimination and to promote human rights in areas hit hard by HIV, according to a WHO release. The two groups plan to distribute a cartoon booklet in Botswana, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia and organize events to promote HIV awareness and education among young people. The booklet addresses "myths and taboos" associated with the disease and empowers youth to promote human rights, according to a WHO press release.