Empowering women may help retard HIV.

E. M. Ankrah, K. Henry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Sexual discrimination as evidenced by various socioeconomic inequalities worldwide make women vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS is increasing faster among women than among men in many countries. 3000 women become infected with HIV each day. Success of long-term development efforts to improve women's status is needed to bring about changes in gender relations. The rapid spread of HIV/AIDS among women threatens socioeconomic development in many regions because women play a critical role in agriculture, trade, child rearing, and family support. The primary mode of HIV transmission in most regions of the world is heterosexual intercourse. More women than men are HIV infected in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Zimbabwe between 1987 and 1993, there were 5 HIV-infected women, 15-19 years old, for every 1 HIV-infected young man. 70% of all HIV-infected women worldwide are 15-25 years old. The stereotype is that only homosexuals, IV drug users, and prostitutes spread HIV. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, AIDS is the major cause of death among 20-35 year old women. Since many cultures consider ignorance of sexual matters a sign of purity, young women fear seeking reproductive health information and services. Most societies expect women to be monogamous but expect men to have extramarital affairs. Monogamy does not protect a woman from HIV infection if her husband has partners other than the wife. Women who ask their partner to use a condom or to avoid penetration are at risk of violence or abandonment. Women need to work together to shatter the myth that only women with many partners are at risk of HIV infection and to address their own attitudes. Men need to be more responsible in protecting themselves and their partners. Improved communication between partners is also needed. HIV prevention and counseling services through family planning programs help women protect themselves. HIV/AIDS is forcing us to face chronic problems, including economic inequities, violence, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-21
Number of pages2
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1994
Externally publishedYes


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