A Community Peer Educator Writes About the Impact of Climate Change on Women’s Health and the HIV Response

An interesting item dropped into my inbox recently, and I am sharing it with you here. Nacia Davis is a Community Peer Educator with the South East Regional Health Authority in Jamaica and a member of the International Community of Women Living with HIV.  We would welcome your comments and feedback, and Ms. Davis’ contact information is below. There is much more to be discussed on this topic, one feels.
Climate Change and Women’s Health

Recent studies have shown that the major impact of climate change in terms of heat and air pollution affects the health and well-being of women more than it does their male counterparts. Increases have been seen in asthma for adolescent girls, with a higher risk of acquiring lung cancer and heart disease for women in mid-life and heart attack, stroke and dementia in older women. This, therefore, means that the effects of global warming and climate change increase the risks of fatality and in some instances create a financial upset for those in the lower echelons of society, especially. The effects of climate change show that adverse pregnancy outcomes such as premature birth, low birth weight, stillbirths, etc. are also possible.

The Link between Climate Change and HIV

Ms. Sharon Cooper, a community facilitator living with HIV, has highlighted the dramatic effects that climate change has on the HIV response. Relating to a recent paper she had completed just weeks earlier, she said that she is concerned that improvements made in the HIV response will be eradicated if the impact of global warming continues. “If we do not utilize alternative energy sources then we will never get to target 90-90-90 despite how well we are doing now. It makes no sense that we are trying to resolve one issue, then creating another that negatively impacts gains made.” Ms. Cooper is adamant that changes atmospherically are some of the biggest contenders against the HIV fight.

A recent study carried out by UNFPA‡ seeks to explain this less than “black and white” link between climate change and HIV. With severe droughts in some places, young girls are forced to become school dropouts, engaging in coerced, transactional and commercial sex as a means of survival. Due to these climate extremes, there is a fear that unemployment will become a major issue, displacement and forced migration causing a loss of stability. Ease of access to treatment, support, and care will create losses in terms of epidemic control.

Alternative Energy Sources

Here is how we go about creating positive changes for an environmentally sustained world: we must first ensure that women – and especially young women – have a seat at the table when creating national development plans. It cannot be denied that young people hold the key to a sustained world, ensuring the health and well-being of all life sources. Secondly, we must think reasonably and logically and weigh the pros and the cons of the continued use of fossil fuels in our daily lives. Yes, it may be cheaper to use for now, but let us also consider the economic and societal strain that it will have at a later date. All around us, there are alternative energy sources that can be used that are environmentally friendly and safe for humans. Some of these include but are by no means limited to hydroelectric energy, wind energy, solar power/energy, and wave energy. An example of replacing fossil fuel in our daily use is the ability to power cars with the use of water. The first such car was said to have been designed by Stanley Allen Meyer. It is safe to say that his discovery was not funded, as big corporations that thrive from the use of fossil fuel would not invest. This would have possibly meant the loss of revenue for them despite the possible environmental benefits.

In conclusion, the challenges arising from the use of traditional fossil fuels can be alleviated by the use of the aforementioned alternative energy sources, amongst others. The advancement of some of these technologies is slow to progress, but given adequate investment, they will be viable. It is safe to say that they have the potential to positively influence the adverse reactions of climate change and pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels.

‡The UNFPA report, a document of over 100 pages, can be found here: http://www.unfpa.org/swp/2009/en/pdf/EN_SOWP09.pdf
Nacia Davis – Community Peer Educator
South East Regional Health Authority
email: dnacia78@yahoo.com
An elderly woman drinking water after waiting hours in line for it in January 2016 in South Africa. (Photo: Denis Farrell/AP)

2 thoughts on “A Community Peer Educator Writes About the Impact of Climate Change on Women’s Health and the HIV Response

  1. I admit I didn’t think about this connection, but clearly all the Sustainable Development Goals are inextricably linked! I often see them discussed as standalone targets to be achieved but we won’t make substantial progress that way.

    Like

    1. I totally agree with you, Robyn. I don’t think they are supposed to be standalone targets but are often treated as such, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. You cannot separate one from the other…

      Liked by 1 person

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