This issue brief is part of a series published by the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS (GCWA), designed to provide information on women’s rights and gender equality issues in the context of HIV. This brief describes the links between violence against women and HIV, with a focus on what is needed to better address these linkages, meet women’s prevention, treatment and care needs, and uphold the rights of women and girls.
The inter-connections between violence against women and HIV, as both a root cause and consequence of HIV, are now widely acknowledged. Violence against women may increase the risk of transmission of HIV both directly and indirectly. Forced sex may directly lead to HIV transmission, and women and girls may be unable to negotiate safer sex out of the fear of violence. Women living with HIV may also face increased levels of violence, due to stigma and discrimination. The UNAIDS Agenda for Women and Girls and the UNAIDS Strategy 2011-2015 recognize the importance of addressing gender equality and violence against women and girls as an integral part of the HIV response. Moreover, addressing violence against women is not only key to the achievement of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 3 on women’s empowerment and gender equality and MDG 6 on halting and reversing the HIV epidemic, but also to MDG 4 (child health) and MDG 5 (maternal health). However, most countries fail to invest in the prevention of violence and provide the much needed services to survivors of physical and sexual violence, including in conflict situations. This brief will therefore provide an overview of the latest research and recommended approaches to better manage violence against women and girls.