Singer Annie Lennox has urged world leaders to change their policy on tackling HIV in a bid to conquer the virus.
The former Eurythmics star is a leading campaigner for women's rights and Aids prevention, and she was invited to address the HIV Priorities for Positive Change: In Women's Words conference at the United Nations (U.N.) headquarters in New York on Tuesday.
In a stinging rebuke, the Why hit-maker blasted U.N. leaders for concentrating their efforts on women of childbearing age while sidelining young girls and older women. She also warned the world will never be rid of the threat of Aids until governments change their "negligent" attitude.
Lennox said, "What does it say about us as human beings if, after having made all these massive steps forwards, millions of women and girls do not reach their full potential, but continue to die prematurely?... What does it say about leaders of nations in powerful positions who do not do everything in their power to ensure that the health, human rights, security and dignity of women and girls is definitively protected?"
"Right now, we are at a crucial juncture, when we have the unique opportunity to turn the Aids pandemic around... Yet right now, here at the U.N. as world leaders gather to plot the future course of the HIV response, the resolution is only referring to women in the context of becoming mothers."
"As well as focusing on mothers producing healthy infants, we must also address the needs and rights of women themselves - at every stage of their life. In my view, negligent non action as a response to the HIV epidemic - as it affects women and girls - is just as bad - just as accountable as criminal action... As long as we continue to exclude women and girls in this whole equation, Aids will never be over."