Tremendous progress against AIDS over the past 15 years has inspired a global commitment to end the epidemic by 2030. Of the 37.6 million people living with HIV, 20.9 million are accessing HIV treatment as of July 2017. Through support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and other partners, more people are living longer, healthier lives with HIV. However, women are still disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic around the globe; as of 2016, AIDS-related illnesses were the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age (15-49 years), and new infection rates are 44% higher in young women than in young men.1 Young men, however, also have an increased risk of dying from HIV. In many communities around the world, faith-based organizations (FBOs) are finding ways to work with those living with HIV in ways that shift harmful cultural and gender norms to provide HIV information and care to both men and women. Through the Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free Framework and the PEPFAR/UNAIDS Faith Initiative, PEPFAR and UNAIDS are working together with four faith partners to strengthen the engagement of faith leaders and communities to address gender inequities, toxic masculinities, and sexual and gender-based violence, and to create demand for treatment and support retention in care.
Working together, UNAIDS, PEPFAR, and their faith-based partners are working to support women’s empowerment, address gender-based violence, and encourage men to understand their own roles and responsibilities in supporting HIV prevention and treatment and addressing gender inequities.