Preventing HIV Infection

Addressing Gender Perspectives in HIV Prevention

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What Should Be Our Guiding Principles?

HIV/AIDS prevention must be approached from a comprehensive, multi-sectoral development framework that promotes the empowerment and autonomy of girls and women and gender equality.

Programme support to women-specific initiatives, such as those that facilitate the empowerment process to identify and challenge the effects of gender-based disadvantages, can lead to assertiveness for self-care and protection from HIV/AIDS.

In certain instances this may require girl or women-only ‘safe spaces’ to build self-confidence, participate fully, and gain awareness about their rights.

Men-only groups can create opportunities for openly discussing concerns, pressures, and emotions that can lead to changes in attitudes and behaviours that place them and their female partners at risk of HIV/AIDS.

For both women and men, motivation for self-care and self-protection - including adoption of safer sexual behaviour - is correlated with the perception of positive future prospects.

Protection of reproductive rights and women’s rights as human rights should be promoted throughout the life-cycle in all HIV prevention efforts.

Rights to confidentiality, voluntary and informed choice, information on the full range of options available, and to non-discrimination based on age, gender, marital, racial, HIV or other status should be emphasized as critical elements of effective prevention for both women and men.

All programmes should ensure the application and mainstreaming of relevant international instruments, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the UN guidelines on HIV/ AIDS and human rights.

Participation of intended beneficiaries is fundamental for programme relevance and effectiveness - especially women’s and youth groups and of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Their participation at all levels of national and local policy-making and programming on HIV prevention - better ensures user- sensitive responses that address the different and diverse realities, needs and perspectives of women and men throughout the life-cycle, in addition to promoting their rights to participate in decisions that affect their lives.


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