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Gender-Based Violence

WHAI is working to build the capacity of communities across Ontario to address the correlation between gender based violence, substance use, HIV risk, and health outcomes for women.


Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is any form of violence based on gender, gender expression, or gender identity.

GBV has the ability to interfere with the ability to negotiate consent, safe sex, and access to, and maintenance of, HIV care. In some cases, women living with HIV may face increased risk of emotional, psychological, or physical violence. In addition to sexism, there are other forms of social inequities that compound violence for women, including racism, homophobia, classism, and ableism. Despite GBV being a reported area of concern across Ontario, women demonstrate great strength and resilience in their ability to move forward from experiences of violence.

Almost half of the women, living with HIV, who participated in the Ontario HIV Treatment Network Cohort Study reported having experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) compared to a quarter of men participants, who were also living with HIV.

The OHTN Cohort Study (OCS)opens in a new window

Indigenous women in Canada self-reported rates of spousal and non-spousal violence at rates that were almost three times higher than non-Indigenous women.

It's Never Okay: Ontario's Gender-Based Violence Strategy (2018)opens in a new window


Physical, sexual, and emotional safety play a critical role in preventing HIV and encourage better health outcomes for those living with HIV.

As violence has the ability to impact trust and connection with others, it is important that communities address its impacts through strong support, welcoming spaces, as well as trauma-informed and women-centred care.

Spaces that address stigma and discrimination, and are mindful of women's confidentiality and safety, attract women to participate and have the potential to improve women's health outcomes.

If you are a woman currently experiencing gender-based violence, ShelterSafeopens in a new window is a helpful resource for connecting with shelters and counsellors in Canada.

“Because it’s sexually transmitted people look at it like you’re dirty, you’re not clean, bringing it on yourself.”

— Woman living with HIV, Ontario

"I can’t report violence and go anywhere else; I am economically dependent on my husband.”

Woman facing systemic risk, Ontario


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WHAI is committed to building awareness and community capacity to address the correlation between GBV, substance use, and health outcomes for women living with HIV. We are working with community partners and women with lived experience to do this work.

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WHAI is learning from and following the leadership of Indigenous, African, Caribbean, and Black, as well as other communities to understand and address the needs of women in regards to GBV and HIV risk.


Toolkit, WHAI Resource

Women, HIV & Stigma: A Toolkit for Creating Welcoming Spaces

This toolkit provides practical tips, tools and strategies to help community organizations build welcoming spaces.


Women Living with HIV and Intimate Partner Violence Q&A

A guide for women who are living with HIV and who experience or are at risk of experiencing violence from their intimate partner.


Indigenous Women, HIV, and Gender-Based Violence

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network's report on the links between gender-based violence and HIV for Indigenous women and girls.