What Social Factors Have Driven the Spread of Hiv/Aids in Sub-Saharan Africa?

3708 Words Mar 27th, 2013 15 Pages
What social factors have driven the spread of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa?
The Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease of the immune system caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is transmitted via unprotected sexual intercourse, contaminated blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles, and from an infected mother to child during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding. There is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS. AIDS is a debilitating condition that has great social, psychological and economic impact on both the individual and the wider community. Besides causing physical deterioration of the individual, AIDS can lead to stigmatization and economic hardship. The cost of AIDS to Sub-Saharan Africa is
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In Southern Africa, women within the age range of 15 to 24 are eight times more likely to be infected than their male counterparts (UNAIDS, 2010). The role that gender inequality plays in the spread of HIV/AIDS is manifested in several ways: social and culture norms, violence against women, and gender-associated stigmatization.
In many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, there are long-existing social and culture norms that have, to some extent, shaped male-female relations and individual social and sexual behaviours. In many areas, there are double standards for pre-marital sexual behaviours and marriage for males and females: there is widespread social acceptance of men having sexual "experimentation" before marriage while this is not encouraged in females, increasing the probability of men being infected before getting married and putting their spouses-to-be at risk. In Zambia, it is an accepted belief that men should have exclusive ownership of their wives, but this is not reciprocal. Adultery committed by men is considered part and parcel of married life, but adultery committed by women is frowned upon. Together with the culture of polygyny, extramarital affairs often put women at risk of HIV transmission. In the past, polygyny was common in Zambia, and though the practice is less widespread

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