Preventing HIV Infection

Addressing Gender Perspectives in HIV Prevention

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Gender dynamics are understood as the different roles, expectations, identities, needs, opportunities and obstacles that society assigns to women and men based on sex.

Girls and boys, women and men, have the same rights, potential and capacities; but discrimination against girls and women based on socio-cultural norms often relegates them to lower status and value.

This often places them at considerable disadvantages in terms of their access to resources and goods, decision-making power, choices, and opportunities across all spheres of life.

While sex is biological, gender is socially-ascribed. It determines how individuals and society perceive what it means to be male or female, influencing one’s roles, attitudes, behaviours and relationships - aspects of personal identity that have a direct bearing in sexual decision-making and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

International commitments 1 have affirmed the need to explicitly address the gender-based inequities and ramifications of the pandemic. Though complex and challenging, gender mainstreaming across the broad range of responses to HIV/AIDS is necessary to halt the epidemic.

For UNFPA, commitment to addressing the critical role that gender plays in sexual and reproductive life, and how it impacts on HIV prevention, are key to successful programming.

It is important to note that this Programme Brief does not attempt to cover gender issues in an exhaustive manner, but rather reviews some of the major implications specific to HIV/AIDS as well as those actions with the greatest relation to UNFPA’s support to country responses to the epidemic. Therefore, the focus is placed on the three core areas of UNFPA’s work in HIV prevention: prevention among young people, prevention in pregnant women and comprehensive condom programming.


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