If you could put a face to Poverty, Aids, and ill-health, malnutrition what would it look like? Thinking of these words of misery, I always see a face of a ‘woman’. Why? I wonder! Gender, poverty and health are intimately related. Health and AIDS disease are not simply biologically determined phenomena. The chances of becoming ill are frequently related to a person’s social circumstances. That is to say, illness and AIDS disease are not simply associated with physiological changes but are also influenced by where we live and how we live, work and eat, and also by our relationship with other people.
There is evidence which shows that AIDS disease has a social, as well as biological basis – in fact, that AIDS disease is socially patterned. By this I mean that certain groups of people in society are more likely to suffer from HIV/AIDS than others. Generally those people most susceptible to such ailments are those who have the fewest material resources, and whose access to descent housing, adequate transport and employment opportunities is most restricted.
“Given the central role that women play in the survival of humanity, one would have thought our societies, and humanity as a whole, would have given the first call to the resources of this world to women and children. You would have thought that women would have been protected against domestic violence, the ravages of war, hunger and disease” (Nkosazana Zuma 2005)
While AIDS in some developed countries is affecting the working class, the situation is different in the underdeveloped countries, where the most poor, especially women are victims of this epidemic.
Women engaged in the struggle for basic needs like housing, land, water and employment tend not to prioritize HIV as a risk factor in their lives. For many girls, poverty is also a common cause of entry into commercial sex work.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is already having a serious socio-economic impact...