Back to Annual Meeting
Back to Annual Meeting
APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Women of faith and HIV/AIDS: Risk perceptions and prevention challenges in Jamaica

Nancy Muturi, PhD, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Kansas State University, 105 Kedzie Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, 785-532-3890, nmuturi@ksu.edu, Cecile Ruddock-Small, MBA, HIV/AIDS Response Programme, University of West Indies, Kingston 7, Kingston 7, Jamaica, and Ron G. Page, MPH, Health Promotion and Protection Division, Ministry of Health, Jamaica, 1-2 King Street, Kingston, Kingston, Jamaica.

Globally, women comprise an increasing proportion of people living with HIV/AIDS to an extent it is now considered a woman's disease. The 2005 State of the World Population Report indicates that married women would often rather risk HIV infection than ask their husbands to use a condom or confront them over infidelity.

In Jamaica, heterosexual intercourse account for the 67% of all HIV infections. Younger women are at a greater risk due to their biological vulnerability, cultural and economic factors and the prevailing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). The Ministry of health also reports that thirteen babies are infected out of a thousand pregnant women. An increasing number of older and married women have however been infected with the virus..

This study examines risk perceptions and challenges to HIV/AIDS prevention among women in the faith communities in Jamaica. Data were gathered qualitatively through 12 focus groups and 30 in-depth interviews among members, leaders of Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) and among persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Key findings indicate enormous fear and misunderstanding of HIV epidemic, how it is spread and means of effective prevention among faithful women. This contributes to the prevailing stigma and discrimination within the faith communities. Social-cultural practices, the high rate of sexual violence including rapes and incest, contribute to the increased rate of infection among women regardless of their faith. The needs of religious women are however not adequately addressed in current HIV/AIDS prevention interventions due to denial and low risk perceptions.

Learning Objectives: By the end of the session participants will be able to

Keywords: Women and HIV/AIDS, Risk Factors

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Human Rights and Reproductive Rights: Experiences of Women

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA