Friday, April 07, 2006

 

Women more vulnerable?

Research has indicated that in Africa the majority of HIV positive adults are women mostly between the ages of 15 -24 than men of the same age group. Women are disproportionately affected by HIV in multiple ways due to the influence of gender and other cultural factors. HIV related risks are greatest in situations where women are socialized to please men and defer to male authority. Traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, the lack of social support for single women, vaginal tightening which increases friction and may cause tears and abrasions during sex, wife inheritance, rape or violence contribute greatly to the vulnerability of women to HIV/AIDS.

The African epidemic is understood as one in which women especially poor women are significantly more vulnerable to HIV infection than men. Such vulnerability is based on biology and the lower social status of women. Women subjected to sexual abuse, often finding themselves in coercive sexual relations, unable to insist on condom use and frequently remaining faithful to abuse by partners who are not www.undp.org/hiv/publications. In areas where virginity testing has become commonplace like here in South Africa, young women may be engaging in unprotected anal sex. The rise of such cultural practices has been accompanied by a corresponding rise in infection rates in girls of the relevant group www.aegis.com/news/suntimes. In some parts of Africa, women can be beaten for suggesting a condom, for refusing sex, and being found or suspected of having another partner www.hrw.org/campaigns/women/aids/factsheet.

It is important to interrogate gender or the ways in which men and women are socialized in trying to understand how the disease is pursuing its trajectory in the African population. Research and intervention programmes are needed for both men and women to solve problems that may arise from methods that may be used to prevent HIV/AIDS.

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