Social Cultural And Economic Factors Affecting The Vulnerability Of Women To Hiv/Aids

1777 words - 8 pages

KENYA METHODIST UNIVERSITY

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT AND MEDICAL EDUCATION

COURSE: BSC. HEALTH SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT
UNIT: HCSI 225-HIV/AIDS

* Cultural, social and economic factors that increase women’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.
Introduction
Women, especially in sub-Saharan Africa not only have the highest HIV-prevalence rates, compared to men, but also are greatly affected by the social and economic constraints that prevent them from evading high risk situations. Context-specific factors associated with women’s vulnerability to HIV infection include:
Cultural Norms
Cultural norms often place a high value on motherhood; attach a negative stigma to HIV-infected ...view middle of the document...

Femininity
In many communities, unmarried girls are socially discriminated against if they lose their virginity before marriage. This stigma discourages them from asking for information about sex or HIV for fear of being labeled as sexually active. Moreover, where virginity is highly valued though, girls have been known to preserve their virginity by practicing alternative sexual behaviors, such as anal sex, which actually puts them at a greater risk of contracting the HIV-virus. Finally, the erroneous belief that sex with a virgin can cleanse a man of a STD or that sex with a young girl brings back the youth of an older man, put young girls at risk of rape and sexual coercion.
Access to Health Care
Accessing treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) is difficult and stigmatizing for women. Pregnant women are likewise fearful of receiving necessary pre-natal services for fear of finding out whether or not they are HIV-positive. Lack of ‘safe and confidential’ access to health care places women at a higher risk for further health problems.
Violence against Women
Violence against women forces women to engage in sexual activity against their will, keeps women away from voluntary counseling and testing (VCT), and keeps women from taking the necessary steps to prevent mother-to-child transmission (MTCT).
Occupational Factors
Female commercial sex workers are particularly at risk of contracting STIs, which makes them more vulnerable to the HIV virus. For a variety of reasons, including poverty, economic dependence, and lack of access to credit, they engage in unsafe sex as an occupational means.
Conflict, Post-Conflict Situations
The various negative consequences of wars and conflict, including displacement and dislocation make women more likely to exchange sex for favors (such as money or food) and increase their risk of experiencing sexual violence or coercion. Domestic violence and marital rape may also rise among crisis-affected populations, as many men who have lost jobs, status and stability take out their frustrations on their partners.

* Discuss comprehensive management of HIV/AIDS
Comprehensive management of HIV/AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) should be addressed simultaneously where the entire health system is strengthened and developed to adequately sustain equitable and quality care while promoting a healthy lifestyle.
The primary goal of ARV (antiretroviral) treatment is to decrease HIV related morbidity and mortality. ARV treatment aims to ensure fewer opportunistic infections and other related illnesses by increasing the body’s immune function as measured by CD4 (Cluster of differentiation 4) cells count – a blood test to determine how well the immune system is working in people who have been diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) – and to reduce the viral load to undetectable amounts. Hence, that is the goal of comprehensive management of HIV/AIDS.
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