According to a number of recent studies conducted mainly in the United States and in Sub-Saharan Africa, gender-based violence and gender inequality are important determinants of women's risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. In other words, women with violent or controlling male partners are at increased risk of HIV infection. As well, women who become HIV- positive are much more likely to be singled out for abuse.
This is bad news for the health and well-being of those women and girls who are most affected by sexual violence, and as such are at greater risk of infection by HIV/AIDS.
Gender-based violence is a world-wide pandemic and directly affects the spread of HIV/AIDS. Fear of violence limits the ability of women and girls to choose their partners; to find out about a partner's HIV status or disclose their own; and to get medical or counseling services.
The United States recognizes the link between gender-based violence and global HIV/AIDS. Through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, (or PEPFAR) the U.S. has allocated an additional 30 million dollars to scale up the response against gender-based violence, with significant funding going towards Tanzania, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Funding in these countries will go toward programs that already exist in the three nations. The idea is to use their experience in dealing with gender-based violence and HIV to scale-up gender-based violence programming and improve the coordination and efficiency of programs against gender-based violence. Some of the money will also be used to make health facilities more comprehensive and able to respond to victims of violence.
PEPFAR will work with local governments and non-governmental organizations in Mozambique, Tanzania and the Republic of Congo, while looking for ways to link up with other partners that already focus on gender-based violence-related developmental issues, such as education, reproductive health, democracy and governance, and economic growth.
As U.S. President Barack Obama has outlined in his Global Health Initiative, the United States is committed to improving the lives of women around the globe.