HIV/AIDS as a human security issue: a gender perspective

HIV/AIDS as a human security issue: a gender perspective

A new perspective: HIV/AIDS as a human security issue rather than a health issue

The HIV/AIDS epidemic today is not simply a health issue. Its spread and impact cuts across all levels of society causing important consequences for human security. The scale of this epidemic has recently lead the United Nations Security Council to make a historical move by adopting resolution 1308 which not only addresses a health issue for the first time, but specifically links the spread of HIV/AIDS to the maintenance of global peace and security.


  • Empowering Women.In many of the countries most affected by HIV/AIDS, it is the women that make up the majority of those infected. There is only one way to remedy this situation. Whether in a development setting or a humanitarian setting, the importance of empowering women and girls at every level cannot be over emphasised. If real efforts are made in this direction, it will reduce vulnerability and exposure to HIV/AIDS.The author stresses the importance of legal protection and law enforcement. Gender must be looked at in terms of differences (physical, emotional and material) and in terms of inequality at all levels. It is thus essential that national laws be gender sensitive:
    • by providing equal access to property, education, employment, economic opportunity
    • by protecting women’s reproductive and sexual rights

    Rwanda, a country that has been dominated by poverty and conflict and whose rate of infection is more than 11%, has recently passed a law allowing women to inherit land. This is an important step forward, but only if this law is effectively enforced by the state as well as by the society.

  • Training SoldiersSoldiers are a high risk group both during peacetime and during conflicts. The military (and other uniformed services such as peacekeepers, peace observers, police, etc) must incorporate a gender sensitiveapproach to training and education on HIV/AIDS. This should be integrated in a code of conduct promoting respect for women and young girls
  • Strengthening International Commitment:The UN Security Council Resolution 1308 has opened the way to examining HIV/AIDS as a security issue, particular in peacekeeping operations. Women need to be integrated in these efforts


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