Why Do We Need To Talk About Women and HIV?

Why Do We Need To Talk About Women and HIV?

HIV destroys the white blood cells which fight infections caused by external or internal elements. 

Women and men both can contract HIV through unprotected sexual contact, sharing needles, or during childbirth (if the mother has HIV). 

Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, women have been disproportionately affected in the major regions of the world. Today, women have outnumbered men in HIV cases. HIV/AIDS-related illness is the number one cause of death in women aged between 15-49. 

Biological Factors

According to biological studies, women are at greater risk of acquiring HIV through sexual contact than men. The higher chances of getting the virus can be explained by a number of factors, but the vaginal lining remains the biggest factor. Vaginal lining tissues are soft, and HIV can pass through to a larger area making women highly susceptible.

Earlier, it was established that the presence of lactobacillus bacteria was the greatest factor contributing to HIV in women. A 2018 study provides evidence that microbial diversity and concentration of key bacterias are the core factors in women contracting HIV. 

Adolescent girls are twice as likely to contract HIV than young men. The risks multifold due to the presence of genital mucosa of the immature cervix. They can also acquire genital inflammation which is an add-on risk for HIV.

Biologically, women are more susceptible to the virus but economic, social, and educational factors’ contribution do not help in avoiding the virus either. 

Social and Cultural Factors

The disproportionate effect of HIV in women is caused by a number of factors. Unequal cultural, social, and economic constructs are the crux of these factors.

Women in general suffer from gender prejudice across all walks of life and around the world as well. Gender-based violence and intimate violence cases are majorly seen with women. Intimate violence is also a leading factor for HIV in women. Women who have been through intimate violence or are experiencing it are 50% more likely to get HIV. In the majority of the cases, women lack the tools to protect themselves against HIV. They lack the knowledge of the assaulters’ sexual history and hence have negligible chance to protect themselves from the epidemic.

Child marriage is still prevalent in some parts of the world. Specifically witnessed in poorer nations with lower education facilities. 12 million girls are married before they turn 18 every year. Child brides rarely know the concept of consent and protection against HIV and hence we see a higher number of young women who have HIV.

The economic and social constructs lead to severe discrimination against women due to which they lack the resources to seek out help or even healthcare services to take up the Antiretroviral Therapy treatment (ART: a medicinal treatment that can help HIV patients live longer.)

The controlled social and economical environment created around teen-females makes it way more complicated for them to have access to education and awareness of HIV/AIDS. Teen girls infected with or without AIDS lack the resources to overcome these challenges. In case, they come in contact with the virus the constant discrimination and detest by society makes it hard for them to understand, analyze and take measures.

The social stigma around HIV in young girls puts an end to the open conversation that is required to find an end to this epidemic. It also leads to mental pressure and issues because of the loathing in our social construct.

The Children of Krishnagiri initiative works towards educating these young-minds to accept and non-judgemental towards the disease. Children of Krishnagiri is a support program for children who are infected with HIV/AIDS. It is an initiative to educate, provide shelter and nourish children affected by HIV/AIDS. 

Join hands with the Children of Krishnagiri to be a part of the change.

Latest blogs

Vasudeva Kudumbakam

Mar 1, 2022

Meet a Guinness record holder

Feb 19, 2022