On Monday, November 9, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that the AIDS virus is the leading cause of death and disease among women between the ages of 15 and 44. Unsafe sex is the main reason for this factor.
According to Bradley Klapper, of the Associated Press, the developing world is at the center of all those deaths and illness from AIDS in women of childbearing age. Other risk factors include lack of access to contraceptives and iron deficiency, according to WHO. Across the world one in five deaths among women of childbearing age is tied to unsafe sex.
In its 91-page report the WHO said, “Women who do not know how to protect themselves from such infections, or who are unable to do so, face increased risks of death or illness. So do those who cannot protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy or control fertility because of lack of access to contraception.”
All of this information was included in a report that highlights the unequal health treatment a woman receives from infancy to adolescence, and into maturity and old age.
Dr. Margaret Chan, who is head of WHO said that women have an advantage over men in that they live six to eight years longer. However they suffer from a disparity in treatment due to poverty, poor access to health care, and cultures that place a priority on the well being of men, according to Dr. Chan.
Fifteen percent of deaths in adult women happen in maternity, according to the 2004 statistics. Chan stated that this is a “preventable tragedy.” She went on to say that this type of discrimination occurs throughout a woman’s life, from diseases in girlhood that aren’t identified because they are not diseases that affect boys, to medicines and clinical trials that are developed with the goal of curing adult men.
Women’s second-class status in the developing world is automatically translated into second class health treatment. Since women are the ones who get pregnant, bear children and raise the children, one would think that it would be crucial for any society to ensure that their health is taken seriously, on an ongoing basis.