According to the latest (2008) WHO and UNAIDS global estimates, women comprise 50% of people living with HIV.
In sub-Saharan Africa, women constitute 60% of people living with HIV. In other regions, men having sex with men (MSM), injecting drug users (IDU), sex workers and their clients are among those most-at-risk for HIV, but the proportion of women living with HIV has been increasing in the last 10 years.
This includes married or regular partners of clients of commercial sex, IDU and MSM, as well as female sex workers and injecting drug users. www.umelady.com
Gender inequalities are a key driver of the epidemic in several ways:
Gender norms related to masculinity can encourage men to have more sexual partners and older men to have sexual relations with much younger women.
In some settings, this contributes to higher infection rates among young women (15-24 years) compared to young men.
Norms related to masculinity, i.e. homophobia, stigmatizes men having sex with men, and makes them and their partners vulnerable to HIV.
Norms related to femininity can prevent women – especially young women – from accessing HIV information and services. Only 38% of young women have accurate, comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS according to the 2008 UNAIDS global figures.
Violence against women (physical, sexual and emotional), which is experienced by 10 to 60% of women (ages 15-49 years) worldwide, increases their vulnerability to HIV.
Gender-related barriers in access to services prevent women and men from accessing HIV prevention, treatment and care.
Women assume the major share of care-giving in the family, including for those living with and affected by HIV. This is often unpaid and is based on the assumption that women "naturally" fill this role.
Lack of education and economic security affects millions of women and girls, whose literacy levels are generally lower than men and boys.
Many national HIV/AIDS programmes fail to address underlying gender inequalities. In 2008, only 52% of countries who reported to the UN General Assembly included specific, budgeted support for women-focused HIV/AIDS programmes.