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The importance of addressing gender inequality in efforts to end vertical transmission of HIV

Elena Ghanotakis, Dean Peacock, Rose Wilcher

Abstract


Issues: The recently launched ‘‘Global Plan towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections among Children by 2015 and Keeping their Mothers Alive’’ sets forth ambitious targets that will require more widespread implementation of comprehensive prevention of vertical HIV transmission (PMTCT) programmes. As PMTCT policymakers and implementers work toward these new goals, increased attention must be paid to the role that gender inequality plays in limiting PMTCT programmatic progress.

Description: A growing body of evidence suggests that gender inequality, including gender-based violence, is a key obstacle to better outcomes related to all four components of a comprehensive PMTCT programme. Gender inequality affects the ability of women and girls to protect themselves from HIV, prevent unintended pregnancies and access and continue to use HIV prevention, care and treatment services.

Lessons Learned: In light of this evidence, global health donors and international bodies increasingly recognize that it is critical to address the gender disparities that put women and children at increased risk of HIV and impede their access to care. The current policy environment provides unprecedented opportunities for PMTCT implementers to integrate efforts to address gender inequality with efforts to expand access to clinical interventions for preventing vertical HIV transmission. Effective community- and facility-based strategies to transform harmful gender norms and mitigate the impacts of gender inequality on HIV-related outcomes are emerging. PMTCT programmes must embrace these strategies and expand beyond the traditional focus of delivering ARV prophylaxis to pregnant women living with HIV. Without greater implementation of comprehensive, gender transformative PMTCT programmes, elimination of vertical transmission of HIV will remain elusive.

Keywords: gender inequality; HIV; PMTCT

(Published: 11 July 2012)

Citation: Ghanotakis E et al. Journal of the International AIDS Society 2012, 15(Suppl 2):17385

http://www.jiasociety.org/index.php/jias/article/view/17385 | http://dx.doi.org/10.7448/IAS.15.4.17385




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Journal of the International AIDS Society | eISSN 1758-2652 | Editors-in-Chief: Susan Kippax, Kenneth Mayer and Papa Salif Sow 

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