This week, it’s important that we critically analyze the issue of gender in relation to HIV/AIDS.
If you are wondering why the two are like co-habitants in one house, I’ll show you with the help of an essay composed by Mr. Mohga Kamal Smith, a Health Policy advisor for Oxfam, titled ‘Gender, Poverty and Intergenerational Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS’
Among all the various channels of transmission of the virus, sexual transmission, I must say, carries the most blame. One; because it depends on one’s will, which then makes the more vulnerable sex—the females—in society prone to the possibility of undergoing forceful sexual relations at both interactional and household levels and two; because it is statistically the most likely to occur.
HIV/AIDS is one of the major obstacles in achieving the 2015 development targets in Africa, where it is now the leading cause of death. Due to gender inequality, women have limited economic options, relative powerlessness and are the more likely to resort to sex work to cope with household economic crises which exposes them to HIV infection. Young girls too are vulnerable due to intergenerational sexual relationships; unequal power relations, sexual coercion and violence are a widespread phenomenon to females of all age groups. All these have a number of negative effects on females. HIV/AIDS reveals the harsh effects of discrimination against women in terms of human health and the socio-economic structure of society.
It is argued that a measure of neglect in the sexual health, vulnerability and prevalence of Violence against older women among populations in developing countries.
Health professionals have focused on women’s maternal role rather than their sexual and reproductive health in relation to their age. However, since young girls are the mothers of tomorrow, policy makers are interested in us.
Additionally, the stigma and discrimination attached to the HIV pandemic due to scarcity and huge expense of treatment; as well as sexual violence (which can be severe for survivors) and women’s generally low status and voice in society, makes it very difficult for women who have contracted HIV to access information, let alone demand treatment.
Ladies, gentlemen and Rwandans, what we have been discussing this week aims at passing out the message; awareness of the harms, disadvantages and burdens caused by inequality.
Dedication to gender equality needs to be planted within us and among us, for our own sake. Let us continue to work hand in hand with our government and everyone else who has worked tirelessly towards achieving that goal.