India is predicted to have the leading number of new infections of HIV over the next few years. Women's vulnerability to HIV infection in the face of this rapidly expanding epidemic is of particular concern because of widespread gender inequalities. This paper is based on a qualitative study of women's vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in rural communities in South India. Research was conducted in the context of a community-based women's health promotion program. Three key challenges facing HIV prevention initiatives among rural women in the context of gender inequalities are highlighted. They are: 1) How can we talk about risk of HIV/AIDS in ways that do not marginalize and blame women? 2) How can we change social conditions that deny women's agency - women's power to resist and control practices that increase their vulnerability? And 3) how can we change medical practices that reflect and reinforce gender inequalities, which in turn increase women's vulnerability? Potential responses to these challenges are presented. It is argued that fundamental changes in the language used by HIV/AIDS awareness programs and in the medical profession's approach to women are required. In addition, a case is made for challenging gender inequalities that increase women's vulnerability to HIV/AIDS as well as other health problems.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, the participant (learner) will be able to: 1. Describe the impact of gender inequalities on women's vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in rural India. 2. Identify specific challenges to HIV/AIDS prevention efforts arising from gender inequities. 3. Articulate responses to the challenges that have been identified
Keywords: Women and HIV/AIDS, Community-Based Health Promotion
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA