Consolidated Guideline on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women Living with HIV. 21/2/2017

Published by WHO

HIV is not only driven by gender inequality, but it also entrenches gender inequality, leaving women more vulnerable to its impact. Providing sexual and reproductive health interventions for women living with HIV that are grounded in principles of gender equality and human rights can have a positive impact on their quality of life; it is also a step towards long-term improved health status and equity.


There were an estimated 17.8 million women aged 15 and older living with HIV in 2015, constituting 51% of all adults living with HIV. Adolescent girls and young women are particularly affected; in 2015 they constituted 60% of young people aged 15–24 years who were living with HIV, and they also accounted for 58% of newly acquired HIV infections among young persons in that age group. In many countries, women living with HIV do not have equitable access to good-quality health services and are also faced with multiple and intersecting forms of stigma and discrimination. Furthermore, women living with HIV are disproportionately vulnerable to violence, including violations of their sexual and reproductive rights.

Many significant changes in HIV-related policies, research and practice have occurred in the 10 years since the World Health Organization (WHO) published Sexual and reproductive health of women living with HIV/AIDS: guidelines on care, treatment and support for women living with HIV/AIDS and their children in resource-constrained settings in 2006. These changes include the rapid expansion of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and the release in 2015 of WHO recommendations to offer immediate ART to all individuals living with HIV and to offer pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to individuals at substantial risk of HIV infection as an additional prevention choice. Given the significant difference in scope, this guideline was viewed as a new submission by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee, rather than an update of the 2006 guidelines. This guideline responds to requests from organizations, institutions and individuals for guidance which consolidates existing recommendations specific to women living with HIV along with new recommendations and good practice statements. It is expected to support front-line health-care providers, programme managers and public health policy-makers around the world to better address the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of women living with HIV.

The starting point for this guideline is the point at which a woman has learnt that she is living with HIV, and it therefore covers key issues for providing comprehensive SRHR-related services and support for women living with HIV. As women living with HIV face unique challenges and human rights violations related to their sexuality and reproduction within their families and communities, as well as from the health-care institutions where they seek care, particular emphasis is placed on the creation of an enabling environment to support more effective health interventions and better health outcomes.

This guideline is meant to help countries to more effectively and efficiently plan, develop and monitor programmes and services that promote gender equality and human rights and hence are more acceptable and appropriate for women living with HIV, taking into account the national and local epidemiological context. It discusses implementation issues that health interventions and service delivery must address to achieve gender equality and support human rights.

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