Socio-Cultural Factors That Increase Women's Vulnerability to Hiv Essay

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The influence of culture on sexual behaviour is complex at both individual and societal levels. Peoples’ control over their sexual lives and choices is in turn shaped by gender related values and norms defining masculinity and femininity. These culturally defined gender values and norms evolve through a process of socialization starting from an early stage of infancy. It is therefore apparent that the risk of contracting HIV is determined by various social and cultural factors that shape gender and sexuality perceptions, attitudes and behaviour. Although the spread of the ‘disease’ is a result of many issues, it is the purpose of this paper to discuss the socio-cultural factors that increase women’s vulnerability to HIV. It shall be evident that emphasis shall be on Africa, and more specifically Sub-Saharan Africa.
Social factors place women around the world at increased risk for HIV. The decreased economic power of women, compounded by reduced social and legal rights, has a number of consequences in the context of HIV/AIDS [amfAR Aids Research (2008)]. Some of the consequences include the fact that women and girls may be forced to marry or are coerced into unequal relationships as a means of economic support. It is very common in the African Cultural context for young girls to be exchanged for food in times of hardship. The young girl is bound by the strict custom that tells her it is unheard of to contradict to what the parent tells her to do. This means that most of these girls just go to the husband chosen to them by the parent, even though he may be too old or even in some cases, sick and infected. Still on the issue of forced marriages, widows are also some of the victims. In African culture, the daughter-in-law is the ‘property’ of the husband’s family. This means that in the event of death of the husband, the wife gets married off to the next relative. The death of that relative also means that the wife will be married off to the man next in line until the...

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