The maternal mortality ratio is unacceptably high in Africa. Forty per cent of all pregnancy-related deaths worldwide occur in Africa. On average, over 7 women die per 1,000 live births. About 22,000 African women die each year from unsafe abortion, reflecting a high unmet need for contraception. Contraceptive use among women in union varies from 50 per cent in the southern sub-region to less than 10 per cent in middle and western Africa" UNFPA

Early and unwanted childbearing, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and pregnancy-related illnesses and deaths account for a significant proportion of the burden of illness experienced by women in Africa. Gender-based violence is an influential factor negatively impacting on the sexual and reproductive health of one in every three women. Many are unable to control decisions to have sex or to negotiate safer sexual practices, placing them at great risk of disease and health complications.

According to UNAIDS, there is an estimated of 22.2 million people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan African in 2009, which represents 68% of the global HIV burden. Women are at higher risk than men to be infected by HIV, their vulnerability remains particulary high in the Sub-Saharan Africa and 76% of all HIV women in the world live in this region.

In almost all countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, the majority of people living with HIV are women, especially girls and women aged between 15-24. Not only are women more likely to become infected, they are more severely affected. Their income is likely to fall if an adult man loses his job and dies. Since formal support to women are very limited, they may have to give up some income-genrating activities or sacrifice school to take care of the sick relatives.

For more information on HIV/AIDS and Reproductive health, please visit the following websites:

Source: IRIN
Antiretroviral treatment has given millions of people around the world - six million at last count - a new lease on life. However, less-than-strict adherence undermines the efficacy of the drugs.

Source: UN News Centre
The head of the United Nations population fund today urged Member States and development partners to take quick action to facilitate universal access to reproductive health, the empowerment of women and poverty alleviation.

Source: IRIN
A former politician, diplomat and aid worker, few people have witnessed the fight against HIV from as many international vantage points as former UN Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa, Stephen Lewis. Now co-director of the international advocacy organization, AIDS-Free World, Lewis spoke to IRIN/PlusNews about the direction of the international response to HIV.

Source: IRIN
When IRIN/PlusNews recently visited Nuna Kahiro, 75, in Kenya's Rift Valley town of Nakuru, she asked the same question she asks everyone who visits: "Did you bring me anything to eat?"

Source:  NewVision
A delegation from Swaziland is in the country to learn from Uganda's experience in integrating microfinance services into HIV interventions.

Source: UN News Centre
Ban Ki-moon today urged world leaders to take bold decisions to tackle the AIDS epidemic, as he launched a new United Nations report that warns that recent gains, while laudable, are fragile.

Source: PlusNews Global
Media images of men in northern Kenya washing condoms for re-use have underscored the need to improve HIV communication and close gaps in the supply of condoms in rural areas.

Source: UNAIDS
The elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Eastern and Southern Africa has come a step closer with the endorsement of a new regional framework following a three-day consultation in Nairobi, Kenya earlier this month.

Source: IPS
In the dusty streets of Bulawayo’s densely populated townships, Susan Nkiwane is making house calls today. She is one of a group of twelve women who form a fragile web of support for TB sufferers in her community.

Source: PlusNews
HIV could lose its "special status" in Kenya's health system if a new pilot programme integrating HIV care and public healthcare proves successful.

Source: IPS
From the outside, little has changed at the Maternal and Child Healthcare Clinic: pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers wait patiently on wooden benches. A chorus of infant call-and-response betrays the less long-suffering approach of their children to the wait.

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