Gender, women and health

Integrating gender into HIV/AIDS programmes in the health sector: Tool to improve responsiveness to women’s needs

A hands-on WHO tool to integrate gender into HIV/AIDS programmes

This tool helps programme managers and health-care providers in the public and private sectors integrate gender into HIV/AIDS programmes they wish to set up, implement and evaluate so they are more responsive to women's needs.

In addition to describing basic steps in gender-responsive programming, which can be applied to all HIV/AIDS programmes, the tool suggests practical actions to address key gender issues in four service delivery areas:

  • HIV testing and counseling
  • Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV
  • HIV/AIDS treatment and care
  • Home-based care and support for people living with HIV

The tool also provides examples of gender-responsive interventions from the field, and resources such as: counseling role plays for risk reduction and HIV treatment adherence; examples of gender-sensitive communication messages; and protocols for addressing the risk of violence among women as a result of HIV status disclosure.

Gender-responsive programmes can improve the quality of HIV/AIDS services

HIV programmes that take into consideration the social, economic, cultural and political realities of clients have several advantages: they better inform and empower clients; improve quality of care and access to and use of services; and enhance health equity by promoting social justice.

How to use this innovative tool

The tool was field-tested in five countries: Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Sudan and the United Republic of Tanzania. The tool was adapted and translated into Kiswahili and used to train HIV/AIDS programme managers and service providers in two regions: Mbeya and Lindi (United Republic of Tanzania).

The tool can be used to:

  • Train programme managers and service providers to incorporate gender-responsive actions into their daily work.
  • Integrate gender into pre-service and/or in-service basic HIV/AIDS training curricula.
  • Engender relevant national HIV/AIDS strategies, frameworks, guidelines and operational plans.
  • Integrate gender-responsive actions into district health and HIV/AIDS plans.
  • Sensitize senior programme managers and policy-makers to gender and HIV issues.
  • Remind programme managers and service providers of key gender-responsive HIV/AIDS strategies.

"I am a role model in the society and my male fellows will be astonished if I bring gender issues as a man. But because I am a role model, I will do it." Provider who was trained in Lindi, the United Republic of Tanzania