Forbes, Anna, Naina Khanna, Sonia Rastogi, Barb Cardell, Kat Griffith, and Waheedah Shabazz-El. “Understanding the Promise: Considering the Experiences of Women Living with HIV to Maximize Effectiveness of HIV Prevention Technologies.” Women’s Health Issues 24, no. 2 (March 1, 2014): e165–70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2014.01.005.
This study discusses how HIV prevention methods are more suited for single men without children as opposed to being equal among the sexes. In 2012, the President’s Advisory Council finally addressed the issue and called for updating of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s Implementation Plan. In my last bibliographic entry, I found that women are underrepresented in HIV prevention, which is extremely counterproductive seeing as they are the most prone to contract the virus. This study makes it clear that women who are the most likely to contract HIV are also the most marginalized women. For this reason, it would be extremely beneficial to use women in these communities who are living openly with HIV as sources of information and education for women around them.
In the United States, most prevention methods focus on individual behaviors such as condom use and minimizing the number of sexual partners instead of focusing on the societal and biological reasons women are more likely to contract the disease. Additionally, most prevention methods only focus on men who engage in homosexual sex, even though most US women were infected through sex with men. One aspect of HIV prevention that is seriously lacking for women is education on treatment. A report by PWN-USA indicates that fewer than half of U.S women have been counseled on the benefits of treatment as prevention. This is important to consider, as it highlights a stigma that does not only involve the effectiveness of treatment.
The study highlights the 3 direct ways to increase HIV prevention success for women. They are:
- “Integrating HIV prevention and care services with screening and interventions for violence, trauma and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services”
- “Interventions to remove structural barriers that place women at risk”
- “Meaningful involvement and leadership of women living with HIV in setting the research and implementation agenda as biomedical prevention tools are developed and introduced”
Focus on male condoms for HIV prevention is problematic because it puts women at risk for violence or abandonment when requesting safe sex. Interestingly, this study states that microbicides, which are applied topically, may reduce the risk of HIV. They were to be released in 2014 if evidence from research showed they were actually beneficial. This is so important because it allows women to protect themselves in a way that does not rely on men, and reduces the risk for violent or negative outcomes when asking for safe sex. Additionally, it allows women to be independent and in control of their own body in terms of protection.
Sex education in schools is also detrimental to women’s education for HIV prevention, as often the focus is abstinence based. States that provide abstinence-only sex education are funded federally, and stop young girls from learning about condom use and how to handle conversations about sex.
In the United States, a women contracts HIV every 35 minutes. This number could be significantly decreased if more attention was paid to education and confronting societal and biological differences between men and women.
This source in depth analyzes and addresses not only the fact that there is gender inequality in how AIDS is handled, but gives suggestions and methods as to how to solve this. The microbicide information was probably the most shocking to me, and as this source was published before research on them was done, I would like to look more into their use and effectiveness. Additionally, the fact that sex education in schools is actually counterproductive really struck me as an important piece in why the HIV epidemic has such a drastic gender inequality.