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Gender Resources

Gender is the sociologically and culturally based distinctions between males and females, and is central to understanding behavior and decision making, and consequently, our risk for many diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Although norms for genders vary across time, culture and race/ethnicity, they have a great effect on all of us, individually and socially. They can perpetuate stereotypes, validate gender inequities and promote narrow views of human identity. Gender norms can also sometimes become strengths and protective factors. For better or worse, gender norms affect the way we transmit and contract HIV, as well as how we respond to having the disease.

As HIV/AIDS professionals, response to prevention/treatment should also reflect an understanding of the effects of gender. Gender responsive HIV prevention strategies seek to address related risks and behavioral factors, and target negative gender norms with activities and programs that will result in positive changes for all genders – men, women, two-spirit and others – and ultimately, decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS.

For Native people, the impact of historical trauma continues to undermine the traditional views of women, men and two-spirits as having valued gender roles in the community. The loss of matriarchal systems, destruction of men’s circles and the marginalization of two-spirit individuals, are examples of how historical trauma has contributed to interpersonal violence, unsafe sexual practices and the rise in substance use in both rural and urban Native life. High rates of HIV, Chlamydia, alcohol related deaths, suicides and the prevalence of sex trafficking in Indian Country reflect this broken worldview.

Reclaiming some of these traditional values and roles can effect positive changes in the current situation and stop the spread of HIV/AIDS: empowering women to once again be leaders and providers; honoring two-spirit individuals for their understanding of both male and female identities; supporting the positive role men play in the lives of their children and families.

This page will feature resources and materials that will help you to facilitate the process of learning about gender, gender responsive strategies, and creating or implementing these strategies in your communities.

OWH HIV Prevention Gender Toolkit






For more information contact Michaela Grey, Manager of Programs, at or (720) 382.2244


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