SRHR Response to HIV Global epidemic, what’s next?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Mary AlMadani, a 3rd-year medical student at Mutah University, Jordan. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


HIV, or by other meaning the virus that causes AIDS, is one of the world’s most serious public health epidemics. There were approximately 38 million people across the globe with HIV/AIDS in 2019. Of these, 36.2 million were adults and 1.8 million were children but nowadays there is a commitment to stopping new HIV infections and ensuring that everyone has access to HIV treatment.

Globally, great advances have been made in the treatment and prevention of HIV and other infectious diseases. Despite these impressive gains, HIV is still one of the primary causes of death in women of reproductive age worldwide.

Sexual and reproductive health is a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being. Intrinsic connections between HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) has to be made, especially as HIV is predominantly sexually transmitted or associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Such connection can lead to promoting the health, well-being, and rights of women and children, reducing maternal mortality, preventing new HIV infections (mother-to-child transmission of HIV), and eliminate AIDS-related deaths in addition to reducing HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

 To effectively meet the SRHR needs of people, a comprehensive approach to SRHR is required. Taking a comprehensive approach to SRHR entails adopting the full definition of SRHR and providing an essential package of SRHR interventions with a life course approach, applying equity in access, quality of care, without discrimination, and accountability across the implementation. If essential SRHR interventions are omitted, this can have implications for how SRHR and other needs change, resulting in an increase in the rates of STIs, HIV infection, and unintended pregnancy.

There are concrete steps that countries can take to advance towards access to quality SRHR interventions. These include mobilizing stakeholders within and beyond the health sector; analyzing SRHR needs among all people and throughout the life course; mapping the resources available and systems constraints, and prioritizing and progressively implementing interventions at various levels of the health system and beyond for ensuring access to an essential package of SRHR interventions.

Stigma and discrimination, together with social inequalities, are proving to be key barriers in some countries. Different strategies have to be taken by different health sectors in these countries in order to achieve stability. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously impacted the response and could disrupt it more.

About the author

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Mary AlMadani, a 3rd-year medical student at Mutah University, Jordan. Currently, she is the president of Mutah University Local Committee at IFMSA-JO. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. Her email address is: mereimadane@gmail.com.

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