African women faced with the AIDS epidemic

Population and Societies

428, November 2006

Africa is the continent most severely affected by the AIDS epidemic, and it is African women who are paying the heaviest tribute. Why are they more vulnerable, despite the fact that more women than menare tested and treated for the disease? Alice Desclaux and Annabel Desgrées du Loû explain why men and women in Africa are unequal in the face of AIDS.

In Africa, more women than men are infected by the AIDS virus. More biologically vulnerable, women do notalways have sufficient authority to impose the use of condoms or ensure the fidelity of their partner.Prevention and HIV-testing, though still scarce, is more accessible to women than to men, thanks to antenatal healthcare. But for three in four women who discover thatthey are HIV-positive, socioeconomic insecurity, fear of dishonour and pressure to procreate prevents them fromrevealing their serological status. Paradoxically, they nonetheless receive treatment more frequently than men.

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