Drugs, sex, gender-based violence, and the intersection of the HIV/AIDS epidemic with vulnerable women in South Africa
Recent innovative research has identified key factors that put vulnerable South African women at risk of HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence, including high-risk patterns of alcohol abuse and sexual partnering, gender norms that place men in control in sexual relationships, low educational levels and limited access to employment, poor health care, inadequate housing, and sex work.
These studies suggest that targeted HIV-prevention interventions can effect improvement for this vulnerable population when programs remain sensitive to gender and cultural differences and expectations and address the social and economic inequalities that make women vulnerable.
Solving these problems on a larger economic scale will require institutional participation and political support for women’s equity, HIV-prevention literacy, and a broader HIV-prevention agenda. This can be accomplished with a multilevel, collaborative response from government, community, and international partners using multiple prevention strategies and fostering sustainability.