The silent HIV positive women of sub-Saharan Africa
A recent report published by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) cited lack of public knowledge as a key issue regarding gender and HIV.
Over 60 percent of the adult population in Sub-Saharan Africa with HIV are women. But because the disease is tied to cultural connotations of amoral behaviour, these women keep their condition a secret from even their closest family members.
For those who choose to take on the cultural risk of seeking treatment, more challenges lie ahead. Clinics are not accessible to most rural villages and women must find others to care for their children while they make the journey. Furthermore, when monetary challenges of feeding a family are already exceedingly difficult, it is unlikely there will be money left over to pay for HIV treatment.
Meanwhile, medical caregivers are not trained to address the cultural implications of the disease and rarely take these barriers into account when treating patients.
Nazneen Damji, programme manager of gender equality for UNIFEM said to the New York Media Global, "In hospitals in rural Nigeria for instance, there are lots of derogatory statements made toward women waiting to gain HIV treatment. You're a sex worker, you're a bad women, etc. There are very few privacy standards set to protect women from these verbal abuses."
Experts insist it is imperative that women become a part of future policy conversations. However the question remains – can written policies and advanced protocols really change deep seeded cultural norms?
You can read the full story on AllAfrica.com.