New evidence from gender-based violence research among key populations can inform HIV programming

Female sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men, and transgender (trans) women – collectively referred to as key populations (KPs) – are disproportionately affected by HIV and violence, including gender-based violence (GBV). GBV refers to any form of violence that is directed at an individual based on biological sex, gender identity or expression, or perceived adherence to socially-defined expectations of what it means to be a man or woman, boy or girl. GBV against KPs is prevalent, frequent and often severe in Latin America and the Caribbean, and a growing body of literature links experiences of GBV to increased HIV vulnerability and reduced access to HIV services.

Yet, we know little about the types and consequences of GBV in KP members’ lives, if they tell others about violence and whom they choose to tell, and what support they seek following violence. An additional gap is understanding how HIV programs can be more responsive to KP clients who have experienced violence. Our research team’s new article in a special issue of BMC International Health and Human Rights can begin to fill this evidence gap.

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