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Political Declaration Target 7 - Gender Inequalities
Eliminate gender inequalities and gender-based abuse and violence and increase the capacity of women and girls to protect themselves from HIV
The HIV epidemic poses a particular burden on women and girls. Social, legal and economic disadvantages, which limit access to education and opportunity, reduce their ability to prevent HIV infection and access HIV and reproductive health services.
So far 100 of 109 countries have indicated the elimination of gender inequalities as a national priority. However, despite the widespread recognition of the problem, women remain significantly vulnerable to HIV and AIDS.
Women in sub-Saharan Africa particularly are less likely to be educated about HIV, are less likely to report using condoms, and more likely to be diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB). HIV also particularly affects sex workers and transgender women, with 12 percent and 19 percent living with HIV respectively.
In addition, studies have indicated a link between violence against women (gender-based violence, GBV) and an increased risk of HIV. We know that women from vulnerable groups such as sex workers, transgender women and drug users, are more likely to experience violence, as are women in areas of conflict. Whatever the cause, services for women who experience violence remain wholly inadequate, as sexual and gender-based violence frequently goes unreported.
However, gender norms can also affect men in relation to HIV. Prevailing concepts about masculinity often discourages men from seeking health services and can even encourage risky sexual behaviour. Men are less likely to be tested for HIV, are less likely to adhere to treatment, and have higher AIDS-related mortality rates than women.
What still needs to be done?
- Incorporate gender equality into HIV responses. This applies particularly in the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
- Increase investment with a gender-based focus. This includes protecting women and girls from sexual violence, providing universal access to comprehensive sex education and social protection services.
- Make government policy and HIV services more sensitive to sexual and reproductive health, along with the gender rights of women, men and transgender people with zero discrimination. This could encourage people to have the confidence to come forward to report and seek help after experiencing violence, especially if this is combined with the provision of integrated services to survivors of gender-based violence.
- Implement more regional programmes like the Comprehensive Care for the Transgender Population in Nicaragua. This program helped to close the gap between HIV risk and transgender vulnerability by advocating legal changes, promoting human rights, fund-raising, developing training workshops and encouraging health education and behaviour change communication.
- Only 52 percent of countries are on track to eliminate gender inequalities.