Linkages between HIV and gender-based violence in the Middle East and North Africa: key findings from the LEARN MENA project
LEARN MENA is the first study on the linkages between violence against women and HIV in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to be led by, with, and for women living with, and at high risk of, HIV. Participatory, women designed and -led community dialogues held in seven countries across the region have enabled women to explore the underlying causes of violence and HIV in their communities. For the first time, national stakeholder dialogues led by women in their diversity are bringing the voices of under-represented and marginalised women to the table.
LEARN has generated scores of personal stories about the types and levels of violence that women living with, and at risk of, HIV in MENA experience, and the implications of violence for the region’s HIV response. Over half the women who took part in community dialogues held in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon,
Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia were women living with HIV (53%). The dialogues also included female sex workers, women who use drugs or whose partners use drugs, migrant and refugee women, lesbian women, bisexual women, transgender women, disabled women, women who have been in prison, and women who have experienced homelessness. Almost all of these women had experienced violence at some point in their lifetime, a much higher ratio than UN regional average estimates.
Underpinning the project is the Action Linking Initiatives on Violence Against Women and HIV Everywhere (ALIV[H]E) frameworki , an innovative, applied research tool that brings together existing evidence on what works to prevent violence and builds women’s awareness to understand and address linkages between VAW and HIV in their communities.