OUAGADOUGOU (AFP) — Hundreds of sub-Saharan Africans rallied Monday in Burkina Faso against the abuse of women infected with HIV/AIDS.
"There is no doubt that lots of human rights violations characterise the (HIV/AIDS) pandemic," said Bernice Heloo, president of the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA).
"Women are the ones who most severely bear brunt of human rights abuse, have been prone to violences and other atrocities related to their gender and seropositive status.
"Many women have been driven from their marital homes, stripped of their hard-earned possessions and separated from their children and people they love," she told a conference attended by Burkina Faso Prime Minister Tertius Zongo.
She urged the international community to lend their technical and financial support to "strengthen the battle against gender inequality in Africa, a key factor in the spread of the pandemic and to contribute to the promotion of human rights for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS."
Around 500 women from some 30 sub-Saharan countries are taking part in the four-day meeting debating violence against women and HIV/AIDS, their rights and access to treatment.
Although sub-Saharan Africa is home to just over 10 percent of the world's population, it is the most ravaged by HIV, carrying more than 60 percent of all people living with the virus that causes AIDS.
The conference has been organised by SWAA and its branch in Burkina Faso with the help of UNAIDS, the Burkina Faso government and a host of anti-AIDS non-governmental organisations.
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