Since 2002, women have represented more than half of all people living with HIV worldwide. Women in the developing world often face both gender inequality and severe poverty—two factors that when paired can create a number of risk factors for HIV (read more in our overview, Women’s Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS). As a result, many HIV/AIDS testing, prevention, treatment, and care programs are now tailored to address gender inequities. But while lots of programs are a good start—it would be better if they were all actually effective.
The Open Society Institute (OSI) has just launched a new resource to guide donors, policy makers and program managers in planning effective HIV/AIDS interventions for women and girls. What Works for Women and Girls: Evidence for HIV/AIDS Interventions is a comprehensive review of successful HIV programming for women and girls spanning 2,000 articles and reports with data from more than 90 countries. What Works complements existing guidelines from international agencies and is designed to spur national governments, donors, and civil society to consult the evidence base when designing programs as well as to set a research agenda based on critical gaps for women and girls.
The exemplary programs included cover the following topics:
- Prevention for women, including condom use, partner reduction, and treating STIs;
- Prevention for key affected groups of women such as sex workers, drug users, prisoners, migrants, and transgender women;
- Prevention for young people, including encouraging behavior change and access to services;
- HIV testing and counseling;
- Treatment provision, access, adherence, and support;
- Meeting the sexual and reproductive rights and health needs of women living with HIV;
- Safe motherhood and prevention of vertical transmission;
- Preventing, detecting and treating co-infections such as TB, malaria, hepatitis;
- Strengthening the enabling environment, including transforming gender norms, legal norms, advancing education, reducing violence against women, promoting women’s employment, reducing stigma and discrimination, and promoting women’s leadership;
- Care and support for women and girls, orphans, and vulnerable children; and
- Structuring health services to meet women ’s needs.
Hopefully, due to this site, existing programs will be inspired to fine-tune their operations, and brand new ones will be able to start off on the right foot. Good intentions for the health and welfare of women and girls are, of course, good—but they’re only great when they are carried out in the best, most effective way possible.