The Feminisation of HIV refers to the increasing prevalence of HIV among women worldwide and the ways in which gender discrimination – both social and institutional- contribute to women’s increased vulnerability to HIV infection.
In the Caribbean, women make up 53% of the population living with HIV. And young women between the ages of 15-24 have three to six times higher incidence of HIV than young men the same age range.
High rates of violence against women; poverty and economic dependence on men; early sexual initiation, multiple partners and cultural attitudes regarding relationships and sexual behaviour; and inadequate access to reproductive health services, all contribute to the increasing incidence of HIV among Caribbean women.
Another feature of the feminsation of HIV in the Caribbean is the predominance of women’s role in ‘care’ responsibilities for family members and others in the community who have HIV and AIDS.
This short documentary titled “Invisible: Children living with HIV” by Elspeth Duncan, shows the social, financial and psychological challenges that HIV presents not just for HIV infected mothers but for their children as well.
How can understanding the nature and impact of gender inequality in the Caribbean help us address the feminsation of HIV in our region?