Sciences au Sud issues
Gender and Aids
Women and men are not equal with regard to the risk of exposure to Aids. In Africa, the only continent where more women than men are affected by the disease, their vulnerability is linked to biological and social factors. From a biological point of view, the risk of Aids transmission from men to women during heterosexual intercourse is about twice as high as that from women to men.
This universal biological risk is compounded by the many culturally and socially related problems women are confronted with when they try to protect themselves. It is still the man who decides about prevention and women have little room for negotiation when they wish to protect themselves against HIV or sexually transmitted diseases.
Nevertheless, most programmes to provide increased access to subsidized antiretroviral drugs developed with the backing of international initiatives, now available in practically all African countries, take charge of women more than men. Some women gain access to treatment because they have taken part in a programme of prevention of Mother-Child transmission and women are more likely than men to seek assistance from associations, which help them in the health measures they take.