Are the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of Women Living with HIV Still Confined by Covid-19? is a report by ITPC, Salamander Trust, Making Waves, South Sudan Young Positives, GALZ, Positive Young Women Voices, and the Ssozi Foundation. It provides an update about the SRHR issues still facing women living with HIV in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan.  This advocacy report builds on previous reports on the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of women living with HIV in these regions, immediately before COVID arrived; and in the midst of the COVID lockdowns.

The latest report asks:

Are women and girls living with HIV STILL confined by COVID-19? “The simple answer is Yes! Women and girls are still affected by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The report shares ten powerful messages from women living with HIV about how their lives have been affected and what needs to change.

Message 1: We are getting ‘back to normal’, but normal is not always good. The SRHR of women living with HIV were not well supported before COVID-19, and nothing has improved. 

Message 2: Sustain our SRHR! SRHR of women living with HIV was not prioritised before the pandemic & governments and donors did not consider our SRHR as essential to the response, and so were ill-prepared to ensure SRHR were met during COVID19. 

Message 3: Maintain our Mental Health! Women are now dealing with ongoing impacts on mental and physical health of multiple traumas and lack of access to SRH and other services faced during COVID19.

Message 4: Ensure our Education! Recognise schools as critical social protection zones for girls and young women including those living with HIV. Keep students in school during disaster periods. 

Message 5: Validate our Vital Work! The work of women and girls with HIV on SRHR, HIV and COVID19 in communities is still ignored by governments and donors. Women continue against all the odds, and many have burn-out.

Message 6: Secure our Livelihoods! Our access to food and money was devastated by the pandemic. It still is, with the global cost-of-living crisis, economic consequences of the pandemic, climate change, and conflict. 

Message 7: Protect our Privacies! Women living with HIV are living with the consequences of confidentiality breaches brought about by COVID19 restrictions and now the vaccine roll-out and the increasing financial squeeze on services. 

Message 8: Safeguard our Safety! The pandemic shone a spotlight on violence against women and girls as endemic before and during the crisis, and yet the spotlight has shifted away from VAWG now that the COVID-19 crisis is seen as over.

Message 9: Invest in our Digital Inclusion! Digital communications are still leaving out many women & girls. However, there are examples of women living with HIV adapting to online ways of working, communicating and supporting peers. 

Message 10: Fund What We Want! Before and during this crisis, funding remains in very short supply for organisations led by women and girls living with and affected by HIV.

Women and girls continue to be confined by more than just COVID19. They are confined by ongoing patriarchy, oppression, gendered inequities and injustices. 

Our report shows, once again, that women living with HIV continue to shift norms. It shows what we are highly capable of doing for ourselves—and what an immense difference appropriate policies and funding could make to what we are able to do.

To read tweets about the report, follow the hashtag #StillConfinedbyCovid

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