London, Mar 5 (ANI): A UN programme on HIV/Aids has warned that HIV is fast becoming the leading cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age worldwide.
UNAids launched a five-year action plan at the start a 10-day conference in New York, addressing the gender issues which put women at risk.
And one of the key issues it said is that 70 percent of women worldwide have been forced to have unprotected sex.
UNAids says such violence against women should not be tolerated.
"By robbing them of their dignity, we are losing the opportunity to tap half the potential of mankind to achieve the Millennium Development Goals," the BBC quoted Executive Director Michel Sidibe as saying.
"Women and girls are not victims, they are the driving force that brings about social transformation," he stated.
The agency also says that experiencing violence hampers women's ability to negotiate safe sex.
It warns that, nearly 30 years from the beginning of the epidemic, HIV services do not respond to the specific needs of women and girls.
Women, it says, continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV/Aids.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 60 percent of those living with HIV are women and in Southern Africa, for example, young women are about three times as likely to be infected with HIV than young men of the same age.
The programme, which will include improving data collection and analysis of how the epidemic affects women, and ensuring the issue of violence against women is integrated into HIV prevention programmes, will be rolled out in countries including Liberia. (ANI)