Across the world, HIV/AIDS threatens the lives and rights of individuals, severely restricting their hope for development. Countries with the highest HIV-prevalence rates face consequences that include the loss of people able to run the government, businesses and vital public services.
This sets the stage for both individual suffering and social and economic decline. Tragically, social stigmas related to HIV/AIDS still hinder efforts to stem the disease in all regions of the world. For women, the picture is made more complex by gender inequality, poverty and blatant violations of women's rights - without tackling these issues, overall efforts to address the epidemic will be futile. The research from the Caribbean and elsewhere shows that there are profound differences in the underlying causes and consequences of HIV/AIDS infections among men and women.
These differences reflect in turn differences in biology, sexual behaviour, social attitudes, economic dependency and vulnerability. HIV/AIDS therefore is inherently a gender-based issue and it has been argued that HIV/AIDS will only be conquered when the effort to achieve gender equality is successful. Gender analysis forms the basis for the changes required to create an environment in which women and men can protect themselves and each other.
Gender analysis is crucial to understanding HIV/AIDS transmission and initiating appropriate programmes of action. HIV/AIDS programming therefore has to come to terms with the gendered causes of the epidemic. Connections need to be understood between gender relations and gender ideologies that drive behaviour, sexual expression and culture if the prevention programmes are to have impact on behaviour.
Policy and programmatic approaches must be sufficiently multi-sectoral and inter-disciplinary and respond to the question of how gender relations and how reinforce vulnerability and risk. UN WOMEN Caribbean Office, which is a member of the PANCAP Initiative, supports the development and implementation of a capacity building programme to support a deeper incorporation of gender analysis and planning within HIV/AIDS work on prevention, treatment and care and stigma and discrimination.
This work is being done in conjunction with the Centre for Gender and Development Studies, St. Augustine Campus under the guidance on an Ad Hoc Working Group on Gender and HIV/AIDS.
The working Group is comprised of representation from UNAIDS, UNDP, ECLAC, the Caribbean Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (CRN+), the Caribbean Coalition of National AIDS Programme Coordinators (CCNAPC), the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Barbados, and PANCAP.
Go to UN Women programmes for more information
In addition UN WOMEN is supporting the programming of the Caribbean Coalition on Women, Girls and AIDS (CCWA). The Caribbean Coalition on Women, Girls and AIDS (CCWA) is a regional network of individuals and organisations, committed to advocating for improved HIV and AIDS programming for women and girls.
The CCWA is a joint effort of UNAIDS and UN Women, with the Secretariat being currently housed at UN WOMEN's Caribbean Office in Barbados.
The CCWA will pay particular attention to:
- Reducing violence against women and girls, given the link between sexual violence and HIV transmission.
- Preventing HIV infection, particularly among adolescent girls, by improving access to reproductive healthcare including female condoms.
- Promoting universal access to prevention options.
- Support for women’s care-giving work within the household and community and to seek to promote women’s leadership in the AIDS response.
See UN WOMEN programmes for more information on the CCWA