Tools to Promote Gender Responsiveness in HIV Prevention Programs for Women and Girls

Content From: Nancy C. Lee, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women's Health and Director, Office on Women's Health, and Richard Wolitski, Ph.D., Acting Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesPublished: June 13, 20163 min read


Cover of OWH HIV Prevention Toolkit

Do you plan, design, implement, monitor, or evaluate HIV prevention programs for women and adolescent girls? If so, this is a blog post you won’t want to miss! One in four people living with HIV in the U.S. are women or girls. There are significant differences in the underlying causes and consequences of female HIV infections that reflect differences in biology, sexual behavior, societal attitudes and pressures, and economic power.

At the Office on Women’s Health (OWH) and the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP), we recognize that gender-related issues are a key driver of this epidemic among women and girls. That’s why OWH developed the HIV Prevention Toolkit: A Gender-Responsive Approach.

Here’s what you need to know about the Toolkit.

Who Should use the Toolkit?

The Toolkit is designed for health departments, clinical staff, academics, program planners, managers, and community providers who are involved in HIV-prevention programs for women and adolescent girls.

Why Integrate Gender Considerations into HIV and AIDS Programs and Services?

Considering gender in HIV prevention programming is important because gender inequalities and inequity significantly impact women’s and adolescent girls’ vulnerability and risk for HIV infection. Separate from sex (the biological and physiological characteristics that define human beings as female or male), gender — the social, cultural, or community designations of masculinity or femininity — may affect a person’s power in sexual relationships, economic stability, and his or her exposure to and risk of violence. By identifying and addressing gender-based concerns, those working on HIV prevention can improve the impact of programs and services for women and adolescent girls.

What’s in the Toolkit and How Does It Work?

The Toolkit is composed of 6 sections: sections 1 through 4 provide background on gender as a social determinant of health and the impact of gender on HIV risk and vulnerability. Sections 5 and 6 explain how to conduct a gender analysis, such as examining gender-based differences in the patterns of HIV incidence, modes of transmission, and access to treatment and care, in order to integrate these factors in HIV prevention programming. Gender disparities are discussed across four domains, including gender norms, gender roles, power and decision-making, and access to and control of resources. These domains are used to guide HIV prevention programs in conducting gender analysis and developing gender-responsive programs.

The Toolkit also comes with a companion Training Guide, which includes a Facilitator’s Manual and Participant’s Manual. These materials offer everything needed to run a three-day training for health department staff and other organizations implementing HIV programs. The Facilitator’s Manual provides talking points and slides for each day of the training. The Participant’s Manual contains the same slides and handouts for every day of training. By the end of the training, participants will be prepared to design and deliver gender-responsive programming.

While the Toolkit is targeted towards prevention for heterosexual women and adolescent girls, the gender and HIV issues covered in the Toolkit provide a foundation for gender analysis that can also be applicable to lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women. OWH and OHAIDP expect this Toolkit will help program planners and managers address gender issues and inequalities, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of HIV prevention and support services for women and adolescent girls in the United States. By incorporating gender-responsive approaches into HIV prevention programs, we support the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and improve the health outcomes for women and girls.

You can download the Toolkit and related training materials from these links at