HIV and gender-based violence: welcome policies and programmes, but is the research keeping up?

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The global HIV policy arena has seen a surge of interest in gender-related dimensions of vulnerability to HIV and violence. UNAIDS and other prominent actors have named gender-based violence a key priority, and there seems to be genuine understanding and commitment to addressing gender inequalities as they impact key populations in the AIDS response. In the quest for evidence-informed interventions, there is usually a strong connection between the research conducted and the policies and programmes that follow. Regarding gender, HIV and violence, is this the case? This discussion paper asks whether the relevant peer-reviewed literature is suitably representative of all affected populations – including heterosexual men, transgender men and women, women who have sex with women, and men who have sex with men – as well as whether the literature sufficiently considers gender norms and dynamics in how research is framed. Conclusions about violence in the context of heterosexual relationships, and with specific attention to heterosexual women, should not be presented as insights about gender-based violence more generally, with little attention to gender dynamics. Research framed by a more comprehensive understanding of what is meant by gender-based violence as it relates to all of the diverse populations affected by HIV would potentially guide policies and programmes more effectively.

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Authors: Sofia Gruskin, Kelly Safreed-Harmon, Chelsea L. Moore, Riley J. Steiner, Shari L. Dworkin
Published By: Reproductive Health Matters
Date: November 1, 2014
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