PEPFAR: Addressing Gender and HIV/AIDS

from Government of the United States of America
Published on 13 Mar 2012 View Original

PEPFAR Gender Strategy: Addressing gender norms and inequities is essential to reducing HIV risk and increasing access to HIV prevention, care and treatment services for women and men. In low and middle-income countries worldwide, HIV is the leading cause of death and disease in women in reproductive age. In sub-Saharan Africa, 60% of those living with HIV are women and in some of these countries, prevalence among young women aged 15-24 years is on average about three times higher than among men of the same age. Men and boys are also affected by gender expectations that may encourage risk-taking behavior, discourage accessing health services, and narrowly define their roles as partners and family members. Rates of HIV testing and treatment utilization are lower among men compared to women. Gender norms around masculinity and sexuality also put men who have sex with men (MSM) at increased risk for HIV by creating additional stigma and discrimination that can prevent them from seeking and accessing services. Globally, MSM are 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV compared to the general population. These disparities are the result of biological, structural, and cultural conditions that affect men and women differently such as gender norms that impact expectations and behaviors, as well as differences in access to resources that limit prevention and mitigation of the disease. PEPFAR proactively confronts the changing demographics of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, integrating gender throughout prevention, care, and treatment programs with a focus on:

• Increasing gender equity in HIV/AIDS programs and services, including access to reproductive health services
• Reducing violence and coercion
• Engaging men and boys to address norms and behaviors
• Increasing women and girls’ legal protection
• Increasing women and girls’ access to income and productive resources, including education