To have an awareness of gender and sexual diversity (GSD) is to understand a few of a person’s many facets—biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation—and to recognize human diversity across these dimensions. Discussions about GSD typically account for gender norms, which vary across cultures and time and have a powerful influence on the lives and health of all people.
Gender and sexual minorities are people whose gender, sexual orientation, or sexual characteristics differ from what is typically expected by a culture or society. This population includes those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex; men who have sex with men; individuals with diverse gender expressions; and many other people, including those with culturally specific gender identities.
Understanding and applying concepts about GSD is essential to public health programming. Gender and sexual minorities often face high levels of stigma and discrimination, which directly increases risks to their health and impacts their access to services. In the context of health and HIV programming, stigma can lead to inadequate funding allocations, harmful policies, inappropriate program design, and unfriendly health services. Reducing stigma against gender and sexual minorities is essential to protecting human rights and achieving universal health coverage. When programmers, policymakers, health providers, and communities gain a better understanding of GSD, they can improve prevention services, testing, linkages to care, retention in care, and (ultimately) viral suppression of HIV.
HP+ works toward mainstreaming GSD competency in the global HIV response. The project provides expert guidance to help people understand how stigma and discrimination negatively affect gender and sexual minorities’ health and lives, and recognize opportunities to reduce stigma. We build the capacity of donors, implementing partners, civil society, health workers, government, and other local stakeholders to improve HIV programming for all people, including gender and sexual minorities. Toward this end, HP+
Has trained over 3,000 people in 39 countries on GSD
Conducted a global evaluation on public health professionals’ attitudes toward gender and sexual minorities
Developed an online and in-person GSD training for PEPFAR staff
Worked with local stakeholders to customize GSD trainings that are culturally relevant and support the ongoing work of civil society in Jamaica, Kenya, and Uganda.