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African women and AIDS: Negotiating behavioral change


  • Ulin, Priscilla R.


Trends in the incidence of HIV/AIDS infection among women in Sub-Saharan Africa suggest this population is increasingly at risk. Many of the same factors that have predisposed rural African women to ill health in the past now increase their vulnerability to AIDS, including poverty and malnutrition, uncontrolled fertility, and complications of childbirth. As men travel out from rural communities to urban centers in search of employment, their sexual contacts multiply; many will acquire the HIV virus and carry it back to infect wives at home. Women, too, are leaving rural areas for the promise of a better life in cities and commercial centers along the way. Their struggle for economic survival and personal autonomy has led many to form relationships with new sexual partners, with a consequent increase in HIV seroprevalence among women once considered at low risk of infection. This paper argues that AIDS prevention campaigns have not yet taken into account the cultural, social, and economic constraints on most African women's ability to comply with advice to limit partners and use condoms. The author proposes a research agenda to explore the meaning of AIDS and AIDS prevention in the sociocultural context of women's lives. A better understanding of how women, themselves, perceive and respond to current attempts to prevent the transmission of AIDS is an increasingly critical factor in the intervention process. Most important, it is a necessary first step toward their effective participation with men in the development of culturally relevant strategies for protecting themselves and their families.

Suggested Citation

  • Ulin, Priscilla R., 1992. "African women and AIDS: Negotiating behavioral change," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 63-73, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:34:y:1992:i:1:p:63-73

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    Cited by:

    1. Peter J. Glick & David E. Sahn, 2008. "Are Africans Practicing Safer Sex? Evidence from Demographic and Health Surveys for Eight Countries," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 397-439.
    2. de Araujo, Pedro & Murray, James, 2010. "A Life Insurance Deterrent to Risky Behavior in Africa," MPRA Paper 22675, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Choi, Susanne Y.P. & Cheung, Yuet Wah & Chen, Kanglin, 2006. "Gender and HIV risk behavior among intravenous drug users in Sichuan Province, China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(7), pages 1672-1684, April.
    4. Hirsch, Jennifer S., 2014. "Labor migration, externalities and ethics: Theorizing the meso-level determinants of HIV vulnerability," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 38-45.
    5. de Araujo, Pedro & Murray, James, 2015. "A life insurance deterrent to risky behavior in Africa," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 548-576.
    6. Dodoo, F. Nii-Amoo & Zulu, Eliya M. & Ezeh, Alex C., 2007. "Urban-rural differences in the socioeconomic deprivation-Sexual behavior link in Kenya," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(5), pages 1019-1031, March.
    7. Luke, Nancy, 2006. "Exchange and Condom Use in Informal Sexual Relationships in Urban Kenya," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(2), pages 319-348, January.


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