GAT calls for: "Let's have women designing sexual health policies for other women"

08 Março 2024

The GAT Treatment Activists Group and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) are celebrating International Condom Day on February 13. This year's celebrations, with screenings, condoms and shows, will take place on February 14 in Lisbon. The initiative takes place simultaneously in 45 countries to remind people that condoms are always in fashion.

On March 8, GAT and AHF, with the support of Setúbal City Council, will hold an initiative to commemorate migrant women with an artistic and cultural showcase of migrant women, musical performances and a community Brazilian-style feijoada.

Fulfilling the vision of combined prevention, free, anonymous and confidential screenings for HIV, HBV and HCV (hepatitis) and syphilis are also offered between 10am and 6pm, as well as the dissemination and distribution of internal and external condoms.

Ricardo Fernandes, GAT's Executive Director, explains that marking Women's Day with a focus on migrant women is an opportunity to remember that "migrant women are still disproportionately affected in Portugal by HIV and sexually transmitted infections, as well as having difficult access to prevention methods".

The HIV Infection in Portugal Report, published annually by the Directorate-General for Health, reveals that, in 2022, the proportion of diagnoses in women who say they were born in Portugal will be lower than those who were born in other countries, 46.3% and 53.7% respectively, with 73.3% of these women coming from African countries. This is not the case for men, where the majority of diagnoses are of men born in Portugal.

According to UNAIDS, women make up a disproportionate number of people living with HIV worldwide. In 2022, 4,000 girls and young women aged between 15 and 24 worldwide contracted HIV every week.

In reference to this reality, Ricardo Fernandes, Executive Director of GAT, considers that "women continue to have more difficulties in accessing prevention methods and, in some situations, in deciding which prevention methods to use", and recalls that "gender-based violence is a reality that jeopardizes women's decision on which prevention methods to use".

"Women continue to suffer serious forms of social, gender and racial discrimination, making them highly vulnerable to HIV and sexually transmitted infections, especially those who are subject to multiple vulnerabilities," such as migrant women of African origin, women who do sex work and trans women, warns Ricardo Fernandes.

For this March 8, Women's Day, GAT is calling for "sexual health policies that are designed with women and for women" to respond to the lack of policies for women in the area of sexual and reproductive health. Ricardo Fernandes calls for: "listen to women, work with women and direct services to women" and, just as importantly: "let's have women designing sexual health policies for other women".

To mark the date, GAT and AHF are inviting the community to support the work of the women who are exhibiting and promoting their work during the initiative, with Afrobella, Studio Calma Ink, Storm Crafts, Di Barros, Alymor, Ashanti, Iara and Ana Paula Rosa. The musical entertainment will feature Mafalda Louro and Felicidade Silva, who will accompany the community's Feijoada à Brasileira to celebrate the community and Lusophone culture.