Globally, women represent more than half the people living with HIV. This proportion varies by country, with an over-representation of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) in some regions. For example, in Australia, MSM account for over 60% of transmissions, with heterosexual sex accounting for almost a quarter of transmissions. Irrespective of geographic region, there is evidence that women can have a different lived experience of HIV due to their unequal social and economic status in society, while MSM can have a different lived experience depending on the laws and customs of their geographic location. Gender differences related to risk factors, stigma, access to services, mental health, health-related quality of life and economic consequences have been consistently reported globally. This paper explores the subjective lived experience of gender and sexuality disparities among three individuals living with HIV in Australia: a male who identified as gay, and a male and female who each identified as heterosexual. Analysis of themes from these three case reports indicated discernible differences by gender and sexuality in four areas: access to medical services, social support, stigma and mental health. It is argued that knowledge and understanding of potential gender and sexuality disparities must be factored into supportive interventions for people living with HIV in Australia.
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