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Prevention Justice Talking Points

April 19, 2011

Prevention Justice is a call to institutionalizing an effective HIV prevention approach that recognizes the structural factors that affect people's lives and put them at risk for HIV in the first place.


Telling women to abstain or asking women to tell their partners to wear a condom is not enough to protect women from HIV. Women will be safe from HIV when the overall quality of our lives and the lives of our loved ones is uplifted and when we have a variety of ways to protect ourselves, including methods that don't require our partner's knowledge or consent.

In the U.S., most HIV-positive women are low-income women of color who face many layers of oppression and marginalization. Women's health is affected by the consequences of racism, sexism and homophobia -- including lack of access to well-paying jobs, inability to obtain quality women-centered health care, lack of safe and stable housing, gender-based violence, and inequitable development policies.

To address the HIV epidemic among women, we must change the way we do HIV prevention -- shifting from individual behavior to addressing broader social and structural issues.


  • Test all women for HIV: The perception that women do not need HIV testing is dangerous to women's health -- leading to late testing and poor health outcomes.
  • Gender-based violence: lack of woman-controlled HIV prevention mechanisms increases risk
  • Incomplete or non-existent sex education: lack of information on how to prevent HIV
  • Structural racism
  • Criminalization of drug use
  • Transphobia: creates and perpetuates barriers to employment, health care, and well-being

PWN Recommends

  • Increase research on the biological and structural factors that impact a woman's vulnerability to HIV
  • Implement prevention efforts that address sexual and reproductive health and rights, violence, and HIV
  • Prevention efforts grounded in harm reduction, such as syringe exchange
  • Male and female condoms and other prevention tools available and accessible in incarceration settings
  • National HIV prevention campaigns for Black and Latina women in the U.S., developed in consultation with community partners, including women living with HIV
  • Upholding nondiscriminatory prevention and testing services, to all women with special attention to the unique needs of transgender women, women who are incarcerated, and sex workers
  • Additional investment in research on women-controlled prevention methods including microbicides, female condoms, and PreP and PEP
  • Biomedical prevention that upholds the rights, dignity and quality of life
  • Age-appropriate and comprehensive sexuality education at all ages throughout the lifespan
  • Improved surveillance and data collection on women's risk factors

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This article was provided by Positive Women's Network of the United States of America. Visit PWN-USA's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More on Women & HIV Prevention

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