Leadership & Research Now (LEARN MENA)

The Leadership & Research Now (LEARN MENA) programme will enable women living with and most affected by HIV in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to contribute to the elimination of gender-based violence (GBV) in the region.

Although overall HIV prevalence is low, the Middle East and North Africa region shows two alarming characteristics as one of only two global regions where AIDS-related deaths continue to rise, and where only 24% of adults living with HIV are on antiretroviral treatment.

Women and girls are also disproportionately affected with 58% of new HIV acquisition amongst young people affecting adolescent girls and young women. One in three women in the region have experienced sexual and/or intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Women from all backgrounds experience GBV, however, women with multiple and overlapping vulnerabilities are at higher risk.

<p>Women attending an HIV awareness programme in Agadir, Morocco.</p>

Women attending an HIV awareness programme in Agadir, Morocco, November 2007. © UNAIDS/P.Virot

Examining the links between HIV and GBV

There is a two-way relationship between HIV and GBV: women who experience GBV are at greater risk of HIV acquisition, while disclosure of an HIV positive status can also trigger violence against women. In addition, GBV can be a major barrier to accessing HIV treatment and care. The LEARN MENA project will explore the links between HIV and GBV in the MENA region and build the capacity of women living with and most affected by HIV in the region to identify and lead appropriate responses.

In partnership with UNAIDS and MENAROSA, the regional network of women living with HIV in MENA, LEARN MENA will address and respond to linkages between GBV and HIV with and for women in their diversity including women living with HIV, sex workers, lesbian, bisexual, transgender women, women who use drugs and whose partners use drugs, migrant and refugee women, and women with disabilities. It will:

  • Build the leadership of women in their diversity to address gender based violence and HIV linkages
  • Conduct participatory, community-based dialogues using the ALIV[H]E framework, led by women living with and most affected by HIV in their diversity to generate understanding for programming and advocacy
  • Strengthen the governance and operational capacity of MENARosa, the regional network of women living with HIV
  • Mobilise support among a range of national and regional level stakeholders across government, civil society, technical partners and movements

LEARN MENA is implemented by UNAIDS Middle East and North Africa Regional Support Team, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, and MENARosa in seven countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia.. The programme is supported by USAID.