Adolescent girls and young women, women living with HIV and women from populations most affected by HIV face significant barriers accessing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services, including HIV prevention, treatment and care services.
Gender inequality manifests in harmful gender norms, genderbased violence (GBV) and women’s lack of access to and control of resources. These restrict women’s and girls’ ability to make decisions related to their sexual and reproductive health. Intimate partner violence and limited sexual decision making, forced or coerced sexual debut, poverty, limited access to sexuality education, and cultural taboos reduce women’s control over when, how and with whom they have sex, and therefore their ability to protect themselves from HIV and unintentional pregnancy. Stigma and discrimination related to age, gender, sexuality, gender identity and HIV status also present barriers to realising their SRHR.
The legal environment can create further obstacles to accessing services and rights when sex work, drug use, same-sex behaviour and transmission of HIV are criminalised, and when there are legal barriers and age restrictions to seeking family planning and safe abortion services.