Linkages: HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Since it is part of our mission as ATHENA to promote the rights of women and girls in all their diversity, we similarly aim to represent a wide array of rights. Despite the fact that HIV transmission is often linked with sexual health and practices, an explicit connection between sexual and reproductive health and rights is rarely made in the advocacy literature. In addition, there is an emerging body of work around pleasurable, safe sexuality and family planning for women living with HIV that remains to be further explored. The documents featured in this section therefore represent a range of issues and perspectives around the link between HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

New Report

Assessing Community Questions and Priorities Around Hormonal Contraceptive Use and HIV Risk: Outcomes of a Virtual Consultation

Through the collaborative development of a virtual consultation to gather insights from key community stakeholders, ATHENA and our consortium of partners sought to identify questions, concerns, and priorities with regard to hormonal contraceptive use and possible HIV risk in order to inform a May 2012 WHO, UNAIDS, and UNFPA consultation to develop actionable information to operationalize the technical recommendations that emerged from a January 2012 expert meeting on the same topic. In our final report for the meeting, we ultimately identified critical barriers to implementing WHO recommendations around hormonal contraceptive use, and developed our own recommendations for moving forward while taking women's wants and needs into account. Click here to read "Assessing Community Questions and Priorities Around Hormonal Contraceptive Use and HIV Risk."

Other Work on SRH/HIV Linkages

Lessons Learned from Addressing the Coerced Sterilization of Women Living with HIV in Namibia: A Best Practice Model

The coerced sterilization of women living with HIV is an ongoing, and largely invisible, human rights violation in Namibia, and globally, with documented incidents from South Africa to Chile.  In order to develop a best practice model for other countries to use and adapt as a tool to document and address the coerced sterilization of positive women within the framework of advancing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of positive women, the Namibia Women’s Health Network, AIDS Legal Network, and ATHENA have:

  • Documented and analyzed the approaches used to highlight the practice of coerced sterilization of young women living with HIV in Namibia, including the strategies used to build an evidence base;
  • Documented and analyzed the advocacy responses to this practice;
  • Documented and analyzed the litigation processes from a community perspective pertaining to coerced/forced sterilization of women living with HIV in Namibia;
  • Identified the lessons learned, both successes and challenges; and,
  • Outlined ‘best practice’ as a tool for other countries in the region to share experiences and adapt to national contexts.

 Our report reviews how a multi-pronged strategy has been utilized in the Namibian context.  Through this multi-pronged strategy, the Namibian experience demonstrates how documentation, advocacy, and litigation processes can all work together to address rights violations, hold the government accountable for what is taking place in its public hospitals, and afford redress to women who have been violated.  Further, the report highlights how an issue that is both invisible and contentious can be made visible and be brought to mainstream audiences through community-led documentation and alliance building spearheaded by women living with HIV.  Examining the experiences of the Namibia Women’s Health Network and her partners, the report seeks to tell a narrative of empowerment and accountability where, in part, the empowerment comes from seeking accountability.

Make It Everyone's Business - Fact Sheet

Make It Everyone's Business - Report 

Bridging the Gap: Addressing Emerging Trends and Neglected Issues at the Intersection of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV

These materials are part of a broader initiative to advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women living with HIV, particularly the right to safe, healthy motherhood and to reproductive choices. The broader initiative includes the on-going development of human rights frameworks, policy briefs, and fact sheets; the use of human rights mechanisms, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur; community-led documentation projects; capacity building; and community mobilization.

With support from the Packard Foundation Population Program, the ATHENA Network has formed and launched a Reference Group to identify and address emerging trends and neglected issues at the intersection of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and HIV, with a core focus on the priorities and perspectives of women living with, and affected by, HIV.

Current ATHENA Reference Group members include the AIDS Legal Network, Center for Reproductive Rights, Health Systems Trust, ICW, ICW Southern Africa, Ipas, Namibia Women’s Health Network, and the Salamander Trust.

Bridging the Gap Report

Bridging the Gap - Fact Sheet

Bridging the Gap - Policy Brief

Community Innovation: Achieving Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for Women and Girls through the HIV Response

On the periphery of the IAS 2011 conference taking place in Rome from 17-20 July 2011, UNAIDS in collaboration with the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS (GCWA), ATHENA, Salamander Trust, WECARe+ and Network Persone Seropositive convened a town hall dialogue to discuss how the HIV response facilitates the achievement of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all women, including women living with HIV, at every stage of their lives. 

The event was also used as a platform to launch a report Community Innovation: Achieving sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls through the HIV response. Compiled by UNAIDS and the ATHENA Network, this report presents case studies pioneering community undertakings to advance women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights through the HIV response and vice-versa, from different community perspectives. This report recognizes that women face unique challenges to access and fulfil their sexual and reproductive health and rights, including gender-based violence, and therefore have less access to HIV prevention, care and support services.

*From a feature story on the UNAIDS website.