Editorials

How men's power over women fuels the HIV epidemic

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7331.183 (Published 26 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:183

It limits women's ability to control sexual interactions

  1. Geeta Rao Gupta, president (geeta@icrw.org)
  1. International Center for Research on Women, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA

    In sub-Saharan Africa 12-13 women are infected by HIV for every 10 men, and the average rate of infection for teenage girls in some countries is five times higher than that for teenage boys.1 Most of these infections occur through unprotected heterosexual interactions. Women are limited in their ability to control these interactions because of their low economic and social status and because of the power that men have over women's sexuality.

    Most of the world's women are poor and most of the world's poor are women. Women make up almost two thirds of the world's illiterate people and are often denied property rights or access to credit. They earn 30-40% less than men for the same work, and most of those who are working are employed outside the formal sector in jobs characterised by income insecurity and poor working conditions.2 Women's economic vulnerability and dependence on men increases their vulnerability to HIV by constraining their ability to negotiate the use of a condom, discuss …

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