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World Population Day is July 11th

July 10, 2007

WASHINGTON –  Married women are at a disproportionately high risk of contracting HIV infections from their sexually promiscuous husbands, according to recent studies in Mexico, Nigeria, Vietnam and Uganda.  

Four reproductive health experts will focus on the United Nations World Population Day theme, "Men as Partners in Maternal Health," at a forum to be held Wednesday, July 11, at 9 a.m. in the Holeman Lounge of the National Press Club here.  

They will discuss the role of men in transforming the social roles that constrain reproductive health and rights.  The event is co-sponsored by the Population Institute; UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund and the Communications Consortium Media Center (CCMC).  

In most societies, men exercise overwhelming authority in nearly every sphere of life, ranging from personal decisions regarding the size of families to the policy and program decisions taken at all levels of government.  Men must be actively engaged in making personal and political commitment for positive change to achieve global goals for maternal health,  gender equality and combating HIV/AIDS.  

The forum panelists will be Dr. Henry W. Foster, Jr., former dean and vice president for health services at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee;  Francis Kissling, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard University who served for 25 years as president of Catholics for Free Choice; Jodi Jacobson, founder and former executive director of CHANGE, the Center for Health and Gender Equity who was recently named director of advocacy for American Jewish World Service; and Nicholas Danforth, resident scholar at Brandeis University who has researched and written widely on male responsibility.  

Moderator of the forum will be Sarah Craven, chief of the Washington office of UNFPA.  Opening remarks will be presented by Lawrence Smith, Jr,  Ph.D., president of the Population Institute.   

Dr. Foster, a longtime advocate of health service delivery systems for poor communities and clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, was nominated in 1995 by President Bill Clinton for the position of U.S. Surgeon General.  He is a recipient of a "Thousand Points of Light" award from President George H.W. Bush.  

Frances Kissling, a leading advocate for international reproductive health and rights for nearly 40 years, has written more than 130 articles in publications that include the New York Times, the London Guardian and the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion.  As a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, she will be engaged in research for a book on reproduction and responsibility, including the role of men.  

Jodi Jacobson is an influential voice for sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls and a proponent of U.S. international population, reproductive health and family planning assistance.    

Nicholas Danforth has worked for more than 30 years to improve women's health in developing countries by changing men.  He designs and evaluates behavior change programs for both men and women that involve both partners in sexual and reproductive health, including mother-child health.  He has worked for the United Nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and many non-governmental organizations in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.    

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