Women comprise nearly one-quarter of all people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the U.S. and 20 percent of incident annual cases. Though women overall are more likely than men to be diagnosed with HIV and engage in care, they are as unlikely to successfully achieve viral suppression with antiretroviral therapy, suggesting gender-based disparities that should be addressed by gender-responsive policies and programs. Using the socioecological model of health and syndemics theory, we comprehensively reviewed published literature to evaluate reasons for and ways to address gender differences in HIV risk and treatment. We discuss the biologic, sociocultural, interpersonal, and behavioral contexts of HIV risk that affect women, comprehensive healthcare for women with HIV that includes pregnancy planning or prevention, and policy implications.
Keywords: HIV; gender; treatment; women.