Does the HIV/AIDS epidemic threaten women more and in different ways than men? Illustrated with case studies on Bangladesh, Brazil and Uganda, this report highlights that there are gender differences in vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.
Women and girls’ vulnerability is heightened by physiological factors, their economic and social dependence on men, lack of power in negotiating sexual behaviour and involvement in sex work. Women and girls are also carrying a large burden as principal carers for AIDS victims. Understanding of the different impact of HIV/AIDS on men and women is hampered by a lack of sex-disaggregated and consistently defined data. Improved data collection and analysis is vital for better understanding of the gendered social, cultural and economic forces underpinning sexual behaviour and their corresponding implications for HIV/AIDS.
Worldwide, women represent 41 percent of people infected with HIV. The female: male ratio of infection varies by age and region, but on average women are infected at 5-10 years younger than men. Levels of female infection are highest in areas where overall rates are high and heterosexual transmission dominates such as in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. However, there is a growing proportion of HIV-positive women in Latin America, and increasing infection amongst pregnant women in parts of Asia and Southern Africa.