In health, more than in other social sectors, sex (biological) and gender (behavioral and social) variables are acknowledged useful parameters for research and action because biological differences between the sexes determine male-specific and female-specific diseases and because behavioral differences between the genders assign a critical role to women in relation to family health. Until recently, however, the importance of sex and gender informed work on female-specific diseases but did not carry over to diseases shared by men and women. As a result, the literature contained comparatively little about which diseases affect men and women differently, why that difference might be the case, and how to structure prevention and treatment in response to these differences. This situation has changed, however, and interest in measuring, understanding, and responding to sex and gender differentials in disease has surged, nurtured by breakthroughs in science and advances in advocacy.
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