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Myths about gender and equity

Gender equity is essential and women and men need to have same rights.

Nevertheless, there are many myths and false perceptions about gender and gender equity. Several of these are related to HIV. One of these is that men are usually the index partners of HIV causing infection to the women. The fact is that men and women are equally likely to be index partners [1]. In addition it is often stated that men are more reluctant to use condoms than men. This is also wrong in many cases, and it has even been reported to be the opposite in studies that have investigated this [2].

Why point out these myths when there obviously are many cases where gender equity is lagging far behind in disfavour of women. One reason is that in some aspects, health care program are directed in ways which to limited degree gives similar opportunities to men and women. One example is HIV-testing which in many cases are focusing mostly on pregnant women (e.g. many of the PMTCT programs which are obviously important). This is not a call to reduce such initiatives, but rather also to ensure that there are similar opportunities for both women and men, also within the health services and to strengthen programs which are less gender specific.

1. Eyawo O, de Walque D, Ford N, Gakii G, Lester RT, Mills EJ: HIV status in discordant couples in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Infect Dis 2010, 10(11):770-777.
2. Uganda Ministry of Health: Uganda HIV/AIDS Sero-Behavioral Survey 2004-2005. Macro O; 2006. http://www.ubos.org/

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