As dialogue editor on gender and HIV for openDemocracy


Site Logo      AIDS, gender, human rights project



HIV disclosure: changing ourselves, changing others
Martha Tholanah 22 July 2014
When will policy makers, politicians and academics start to think upstream, in order to change their own and their employees’ attitudes towards HIV before seeking to change the attitudes of others?


Bio-insecurity and HIV/AIDS
Ida Susser and Zena Stein 20 July 2014
Science and global funding of HIV prevention is seen as an investment in biosecurity, but unless prevention and treatment take place within the context of the local bio-insecurity of the poor woman and her family the AIDS epidemic can not be fully stemmed, argue Ida Susser and Zena Stein


HIV: a call for solidarity with the transgender community
Cecilia Chung 19 July 2014
With the prevalence of HIV 50 times higher than that of the general population, societal acceptance and family support are crucial to the emotional wellbeing and health outcomes of LGBT people. Cecila Chung tells her own story and calls for transgender sisterhood at the AIDS 2014 Conference


AIDS 2014: Where are the women we need to step up the pace?
Susan Paxton 18 July 2014
With scientific advances in controlling HIV we need a strong community-based response now more than ever to ensure that the stigma still surrounding HIV does not stop people from coming forward for testing, treatment and care. So where are the community delegates at the International AIDS conference ?


Indonesia: facing life with HIV
Sindi Putri18 July 2014
Strategies, no matter how well intentioned, are not enough without the knowledge, insights and experiences of people with HIV to translate them into effective and rights-based practice. Sindi Putri shares her own experience in Indonesia.


AIDS 2014 Conference: stepping up the pace and still on the wrong path
Alice Welbourn 18 July 2014
As the 20th International AIDS Conference opens in Melbourne this weekend, Alice Welbourn reflects on how global policies still fail to acknowledge the gender dimensions of this pandemic, or take into account the new broader medico-ethical debates which echo many of the concerns of women living with HIV.


HIV: Violations or investments in women’s rights?
Alice Welbourn 22 April 2014
In the context of widespread sexual violence and its reciprocal links to HIV, Alice Welbourn reports on how the formal scientific evidence base alone is beginning to be recognized as not fit-for-purpose to safeguard women’s rights.


An end to AIDS? Not through medication alone
Alice Welbourn 1 December 2013
In the world of HIV, the allure of the bio-medical techno-fix still attracts many policy makers. Meanwhile a parallel world of care, support, community spirit and women’s resilience still beats quietly. On World AIDS Day Alice Welbourn considers the future of the AIDS pandemic.


Compulsion versus Compassion: HIV Treatment for Women and Children
Alice Welbourn and Louise Binder 8 July 2013
Alice Welbourn and Louise Binder consider whether the new World Health Organisation treatment guidelines for women and children living with HIV may result in more abuse and harm.



Women and the post-2015 agenda: are you on board the ark?
Alice Welbourn 18 March 2013
With the roller-coaster of the CSW just finished and the resignation of UNWomen Director Michelle Bachelet, the next year promises stormy seas ahead for setting the future agenda for women’s rights. Alice Welbourn sets out some priorities for civil society in relation to HIV, gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive rights.


Sex work, violence and HIV: experience from rural Karnataka
Parinita Bhattacharjee 13 March 2013
In the final days of the CSW meeting in New York, arguments over the language to be used in the Outcome Document are continuing, with some States refusing to acknowledge the existence of intimate partner violence in spite of widespread scientific evidence and testimony from victims of violence.


CSW: from the global to the local – an extraordinary opportunity
Charlotte Watts 11 March 2013
Walking the bustling corridors of the UN headquarters with my Ugandan colleagues, I realise that I am situated – physically, intellectually, emotionally, politically – in the most direct connection between global policy making and grass root programming. Charlotte Watts reflects on her first week at the UN CSW.


Criminal law: HIV and violence against women
Louise Binder  6 March 2013
Recent court decisions in Canada on HIV non-disclosure are bad science, bad public health policy, and bad medicine for women, says Louise Binder.



Violence, gender and HIV in the UK
Nell Osborne  14 February 2013
Internationally, the reciprocal links between HIV and gender based violence are well documented. Yet in the UK NHS guidelines about violence against women do not contain any reference to HIV. Today marks the launch of a report by theSophia Forum calling for a national investigation



The gender politics of funding women human rights defenders


Alice Welbourn 10 December 2012
Lack of funding for women’s rights is a form of gender-based violence which is so pervasive that it goes largely unnoticed. Alice Welbourn says it is critical for us to hold governments and the UN to account for gender equitable budgeting.


Against coerced sterilisation: a resounding victory in Namibia
Nell Osborne 5 December 2012
Are autonomous feminist movements more important for tackling violence against women than the wealth of a country and the levels of female representation in government? Nell Osborne examines the transformative power of women’s movements.


Global mechanism, regional solution: ending forced sterilisation
Baby Rivona and Oldri Mukuan 4 December 2012
For the first time in south-east Asia, an HIV-positive women’s group in Indonesia is using the CEDAW Shadow Report to challenge the forced sterilisation and violence against positive women



An HIV-free generation: human sciences vs plumbing
Alice Welbourn 17 August 2012
The top down medical bio-fix behind the new Global Plan for an AIDS-free generation will not work without shifting the status quo to include human rights and the science of phenomenology: that means talking to us, funding us and involving us, says Alice Welbourn.


Is there a future for women living with HIV?
Alice Welbourn 27 July 2012
Rumours of the closure of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS, and a World Bank and USAID meeting of “world thought leaders” with no women on the panel. On the final day of the XIX International AIDS Conference, Alice Welbourn reports on the battle for the human rights of women with HIV to health, participation in the world, and to dignity.


No test, no arrest: criminal laws to fuel another HIV epidemic
Louise Binder 27 July 2012
“It is a terrible irony that we have come to a place where the medications we fought for will allow us to live a relatively normal quality of life, and now we are going to go to jail for doing so”. Louise Binder reports on laws that will deter people from testing for HIV and increase the fear of stigma.


Are hospitals safe for women living with HIV?
Aziza Ahmed and Mindy Roseman & Jennifer Gatsi-Mallet 25 July 2012
There is no shortage of documentation regarding the struggle of women living with HIV to access basic care, support, and treatment. There is however a dearth of remedies and of justice.


HIV: time for the US to put its own house in order ?
Alice Welbourn 23 July 2012
In the US more than 80% of women living with HIV are women of colour and poverty. Funding is drying up for prevention and supportive services, and HIV criminalization is on the increase. Alice Welbourn reports on the opening day of the X1X International AIDS Conference in Washington DC.


HIV, women and abortion rights
Maria de Bruyn 23 July 2012
Interventions to link HIV-related and reproductive health services must not only include access to modern contraceptive methods and non-discriminatory antenatal, delivery and postnatal care, but also access to safe legal abortion, says Maria de Bruyn.


Exploring violence as a consequence of HIV
Anca Nitulescu 22 July 2012
With HIV now the leading cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age worldwide, Anca Nitulescu asks whether the AIDS 2012 conference will finally address the links between HIV and gender based violence.


Hope, pain and patience: HIV and sex workers
Nada Mustafa Ali 22 July 2012
A year after the UN adopted a declaration in which member states committed to creating “enabling legal, social and policy frameworks in each national context …to eliminate stigma, discrimination and violence related to HIV” . Nada Mustafa Ali reports on the situation in South Sudan.


The right to know: women’s choices, Depo-Provera and HIV
Ida Susser, Zena Stein, and Erica Gollub 20 July 2012
As we enter the fourth decade of AIDS, we need to assert once again the importance of transparency, knowledge and autonomy in the introduction and distribution of technologies for prevention and treatment of the disease.


HIV in Italy: the epidemic continues growing among women
Silvia Petretti 20 July 2012
44,3% of all new diagnoses of HIV are among migrant women. New culturally appropriate approaches are needed to community work, in order to reach those women who are most marginalized, says Silvia Petretti.


L’HIV in Italia: l’epidemia continua a crescere tra le donne
Silvia Petretti 20 July 2012
il 44,3% di tutte le nuove diagnosi di infezione da HIV si registra tra le immigrate. C’è bisogno di nuovi approcci al nostro lavoro all’interno della comunità che tengano in considerazione l’adeguatezza culturale e che ci permettano di offrire sostegno anche alle donne che sono più marginalizzate, dice Silvia Petretti.


USA: banning people with HIV from attending the AIDS 2012 conference
Heidemarie F. Kremer 18 July 2012
Heidemarie Kremer is a medical doctor, psychologist, and scientist. She has been barred from presenting her science at the International AIDS Conference in Washington because she is HIV-positive. She writes, “I have a criminal record because I am open about my HIV status. The stigma has made me silent”.


Positive and pregnant in Asia – How dare you
Susan Paxton 17 July 2012
Extreme discrimination, abuse and abandonment during delivery by maternal health professionals against women with HIV can be  murderous. Susan Paxton reports on a rigorous study conducted in six Asian countries.


Accepted mishaps? Faith healing, HIV and AIDS responses
Jessica Horn 16 July 2012
As the 2012 International AIDS Conference gathers to review “the science”, Jessica Horn examines the powerful role of faith-healing in African communities affected by HIV and AIDS, and asks why there is still so little policy and activist action on the issue.


HIV and the Global Plan: turning the tide or a wash-out for women?
Alice Welbourn 16 July 2012
The 19th International  AIDS Conference opens in Washington DC next week. We all seek an HIV-free generation but as the Global Plan gathers pace, the juggernaut effect, with little safeguard for women’s rights or safety, may yet derail the process. Alice Welbourn explains why.



1 December 2011

Again, we are delighted to learn that openDemocracy has chosen our story as the top story on 1 December 2011. This is World AIDS Day 2011, where the world stops for a moment to commemorate the millions of people who have lost their lives and faced appalling stigma and discrimination thanks to this pandemic.

The link to the article is here



The “calm down dear” factor writ large: AIDS, women and the UN
Alice Welbourn 17 June 2011
In the words of the African parable, when elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers. Then what will they have to survive on? Alice Welbourn reports on the plethora of men on the platform in New York.


Rocking the cradle – and the boat
Alice Welbourn 7 March 2011
Global funding for HIV/Aids now goes to large international organisations. They need the grassroots organisations to tick their boxes of “community involvement”, but they are corporate entities, and the money for the daily advocacy work of positive women has all but dried up, says Alice Welbourn.


Positive women human rights defenders
Alice Welbourn 1 December 2010
When the world has come to terms with the reality that HIV is not a morality issue, and that it can affect any one of us, it will be time to recognize the dangerous work of these women.


Sterilisation: the fight for bodily integrity
Jennifer Gatsi Mallet and Aziza Ahmed 26 October 2010
Accessing justice has been a long process for the sterilized HIV positive women whose cases are being heard before a judge in Namibia – and longer still for the women who may never have their day in court.



We were delighted to learn that 23 articles and blogs which we commissioned, edited and wrote for the “Open Democracy” on-line news and current affairs website, with a global readership, were for the weekend of 6-8th August 2010, placed as the top story on its entire website. This is a tremendous accolade for all the contributors. To read all the material we submitted about the Vienna AIDS Conference, click here.


We hear the thunder but we see no rain
Alice Welbourn 5 August 2010
Whilst the dollars roll big-time for medical male circumcision, we are forever at the wrong end of a deeply entrenched uneven male playing field of traditions when it comes to gender, HIV – and funding.


A focus on sex workers
Aziza Ahmed5 August 2010
The attitude that we can ‘ rescue’ sex workers has led to provisions in anti-trafficking and anti-prostitution laws which limit the ability of sex workers to access life-saving care and address the HIV epidemic.


The history of an AIDS dinosaur
Heidemarie Kremer 23 July 2010
In 1988, I received the confirmation of my positive second Western Blot test in a phone booth at Teheran’s main post office. As an AIDS dinosaur, I would like to share some personal experiences.


Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence
Alice Welbourn23 July 2010
At the close of the AIDS Conference in Vienna, Alice Welbourn reports that the question of whether a human rights agenda to public health will really start to find its way into the science tracks of these conferences still hangs above us all.


HIV: what kind of evidence counts ?
Maria de Bruyn 23 July 2010
Some will find no evidence of value if it doesn’t coincide with the views that they already hold, or the interests they perceive are important to their most powerful supporters.


Is evidence all it will take?
Aziza Ahmed 23 July 2010


Women, are you here?
Lauren Suchman 22 July 2010
As I move through the conference outside the Women’s Networking Zone, I sometimes find myself wondering if the women are here.


HIV: the fight for trade related intellectual property regulations
Ida Susser 22 July 2010
We need to fight the narrowing opportunities for the production of generic AIDS and other drugs. As India is conforming to new patent laws, more people are contracting HIV.


Walk, walk, walk your talk
Jacqui Stevenson 21 July 2010
Putting human rights at the centre of the response to HIV and AIDS is the only way to truly tackle the pandemic, and satisfy the riot of demands made in today’s march at the AIDS 2010 Conference in Vienna.


A microbicide success: feminism is essential to good science
Ida Susser 21 July 2010
Advocates for women pushed for microbicides when scientists working on AIDS vaccines and treatment had not even envisioned the problem of “methods women can use.” The announcement of the first microbicide ever shown to prevent HIV in women is the product of feminist visions.


Medication, prevention and me
Alice Welbourn 21 July 2010
“For those of us who are in stable relationships with an HIV-negative partner – or seeking one – this was total music to our ears”. Alice Welbourn reports from the International AIDS 2010 conference in Vienna


Sistership in action: zoning in on Vienna

Alice Welbourn 20 July 2010
There we all were, presentation-writing abandoned, frantically wielding screwdrivers to construct eight large flatpack bookshelves which we have been lent for the week. Grace springs into action as the flatpack queen, explaining patiently to the rest of us the critical sequence to construction without tears. The frantic week has begun.


Hooray for the visible panty line
Luisa Orsa 20 July 2010
The Women’s Networking Zone provides a space where no conversation is taboo, and where the mundane and seemingly ‘small’ details of women’s lives can be given a platform, so that the linkages between these realities, and HIV / AIDS policy and programming, can be made.


Rights Here, Right Now, Rights Maybe?
Aziza Ahmed 19 July 2010


“More than just a pound of flesh”?
Alice Welbourn 15 July 2010
It is time to move beyond the ‘objective’ evidence base to rights and justice for women with HIV. Will the International AIDS Conference in Vienna next week make a difference?


HIV: nothing about us, without us
Andrea von Lieven 15 July 2010
I am almost at peace with HIV. I am used to my reality. The “why me” days are over. The timing is never right, as transmission is never intended. It’s been ten years and now, for the first time, I will attend this conference as an openly positive woman.


Where power resides, the epidemic recedes
Silvia Petretti 15 July 2010
When I entered the meeting room I was welcomed by smiles and greetings in different languages. A dark woman with oriental eyes, from Kazakhstan, two statuesque blondes in vertiginous heels from St Petersburg.


From Barcelona to Vienna: the delegates who do not know we exist
Marijo Vazquez 15 July 2010
The city becomes a giant hotel, hundreds of activities happen simultaneously, thousands of people talk HIV, millions of euros are spent – and then, suddenly, everything vanishes again as if the conference had never happened.


Why I don’t test for HIV
Harriet Langanke 15 July 2010
The International AIDS Conference is not only about medical science, it is also about prevention. If prevention dares to overcome stigma and fear, I might overcome mine.


Romania: living with HIV
Anca Nitulescu 15 July 2010
Unscreened blood transfusions, institutionalization – and now the economic crisis, mean that those who survived contracting HIV as children face immense problems accessing treatment today.


The only positive woman in Vienna
Sophie Dilmitis 15 July 2010
Women with HIV are part of the solution, not part of the problem in tackling this pandemic.


African women with HIV in Europe: from isolation to involvement
Angelina Namiba 15 July 2010
African women living in the UK still have to deal with a number of harmful cultural practices. Many of these women also have to battle continually with some of the conflicting messages and teachings around HIV and religion. Small wonder that for many women, dealing with their own HIV often takes a back seat.


How do you spend your time as an old age pensioner?
Maria Jonas 15 July 2010
I work as a glorified concierge, answering questions as to where and when the test can be done, I encourage those who might not be brave enough to get this test, I hand out condoms.



When things fall apart
Alice Welbourn 1 December 2009
Alice Welbourn charts her own personal experiences of what she learnt about HIV, about herself and about others during her early years of living with her diagnosis. She reflects on how traumatic experiences can also be ones of growth and self-knowledge – and how HIV has much to teach us all.


Balancing on Wheels of Hope
Alice Welbourn
Balancing on Wheels of Hope.


A message for World Aids Day
Alice Welbourn
The criminal prosecution of people with HIV is accelerating insidiously around the world. This article charts developments since Alice Welbourn’s openDemocracy report on this ‘war on women’ for International Women’s Day 2008.


HIV/Aids: a war on women
Alice Welbourn
Numerous countries and foundations are admirably desperate to do something to curb the spread of HIV/Aids. If a policy or a model law appears that has been produced by respected “expert” institutions, it is quite understandable that they will rush to make use of them. But what if those policies or laws, although well intentioned in principle, do not work in practice? This is exactly what is happening in the international response to HIV, where a crisis is developing which is increasingly eroding the rights of women.