a message from Sharon L. Camp, President & CEO
Information has the power to change lives.
I am more convinced of this than ever after visiting Uganda last month to release groundbreaking new research findings by the Guttmacher Institute and its Ugandan partners at Makerere University. Where the lives of women and young people are laid waste by unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion and HIV/AIDS, new evidence clearly has the power to drive policy and program change.
With your support of the Institute's research, policy analysis and advocacy, we can do even more both at home and abroad to make a difference.
In central Uganda, 1 in 10 people are infected with HIV, and increasingly the face of the epidemic is female. Most Ugandan women want only five children, but will bear seven. Half of those births will be unplanned.
Early next year, new Guttmacher research will document that Uganda has one of the highest rates of abortion in Africa and in the world. Soon after, we will release the results of heartrending interviews with pregnant women who are HIV positive and grappling not only with how the disease will change their lives, but with the serious repercussions of a high risk pregnancy and the possible birth of an infected child. Our colleagues from Mulago Hospital are helping us gather information from these women.
Our colleagues have talked with young brides, pregnant with their first child, who learn in the course of prenatal care that they've acquired HIV from their husbands. They tell of mothers who are already caring for HIV-infected children and must weigh the medical risks and social stigma of an illegal abortion against the stigma of not continuing to bear children—even if those children may also be infected. They tell of not being able to refuse sex or negotiate condom use because condoms are not used in marriage. They talk about their fear of abandonment if they tell their husband or other family members about their HIV status. They tell of how they worry about leaving their children behind.
This information is powerful.
By documenting the hard choices and limited options faced by women around the world, the Guttmacher Institute plays a role that few other organizations can play. As the leading source of trusted information on sexual and reproductive health, we have effectively used scientific evidence to drive policy change in the United States and around the world. In Uganda, our research brings dignity and legitimacy to the lives of women living with HIV and women compelled to seek illegal abortions. We plan on using our findings to encourage policymakers to deal with the consequences of disparaging condoms, of shrouding HIV in secrecy, and of making abortion illegal and unsafe.
I came away from my time in Uganda with an even greater conviction that the Guttmacher Institute can do even more in Africa, in the United States and around the world to force policymakers to deal with these critical issues.
With your support, we are uniquely placed to generate the facts and ideas needed to overcome the ignorance and inequalities that plague sexual and reproductive health. We can be a watchful eye on the policy process, and bring new findings to bear on each and every deliberation. We can set bold, ambitious goals for the future and help promote fulfilling relationships, planned pregnancies and healthy childbirth in every country.
Your gift is fully tax deductible and very much appreciated. [Give online]
Sharon L. Camp, Ph.D.
President and CEO
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