Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day Blog: The Honourable Dora Byamukama, Ugandan Feminist Activist, Addresses the Crisis

photograph of Ugandan feminist activist Dora Byamukama is from here
Women continue to be at particular risk of exposure to HIV/AIDS. The reasons why women are hardest hit by HIV/AIDS are mixed and hinge on economic challenges, social attitudes, and the need for sustained political intervention.

Economic challenges stem from limited opportunities. For example the Makerere Female Scholarship Initiative that supports girls from disadvantaged backgrounds has only seen 600 girls graduate. It was clear that most of the applicants could not be availed with an opportunity to access higher education.

One beneficiary narrated that she would have already been married if she had not got the scholarship. Much as there is nothing wrong with getting married, the fact is that women’s economic dependence on men deprives them of the ability to refuse sexual practices that expose them to AIDS. And therefore when women get married at a point when they are not in a position to earn a living, they are doomed to economic dependence and this in most cases perpetuates a cycle of marrying off their daughters at an early age too.

Indeed, women’s dependence on men also stems from cultural and religious beliefs that treat women as inferior to men. These cultural and religious beliefs lead to widespread practices like wife inheritance, which increase women’s likelihood of contracting HIV/AIDs. There is therefore urgent need to review and restate cultural and religious principles so that they take into account prevailing circumstances. 
-- The Honourable Dora Byamukama, Ugandan feminist's statement*, Wednesday, December 1, 2010
[*See also the end of this post for a source link.]

Started on 1st December 1988, World AIDS Day is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. The World AIDS Day theme for 2010 is 'Universal Access and Human Rights'. World AIDS Day is important for reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.

According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.3 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2009 some 2.6 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 1.8 million people died from AIDS.1

The vast majority of people with HIV and AIDS live in lower- and middle-income countries. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world.

Also from
“This epidemic unfortunately remains an epidemic of women.” - Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS1
At the end of 2009 it was estimated that out of the 33.3 million adults worldwide living with HIV and AIDS, more than half are women.2 It is suggested that 98 percent of these women live in developing countries.3 The AIDS epidemic has had a unique impact on women, which has been exacerbated by their role within society and their biological vulnerability to HIV infection.

Generally women are at a greater risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV. Biologically women are twice more likely to become infected with HIV through unprotected heterosexual intercourse than men. In many countries women are less likely to be able to negotiate condom use and are more likely to be subjected to non-consensual sex.4 5

Additionally, millions of women have been indirectly affected by the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Women’s childbearing role means that they have to contend with issues such as mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The responsibility of caring for AIDS patients and orphans is also an issue that has a greater effect on women.

There are a number of things that can be done in order to reduce the burden of the epidemic among women. These include promoting and protecting women's human rights, increasing education and awareness among women and encouraging the development of new preventative technologies such as post-exposure prophylaxis and microbicides.

Also from

Both HIV prevalence rates and the numbers of people dying from AIDS vary greatly between African countries.

In Somalia and Senegal the HIV prevalence is under 1% of the adult population, whereas in Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe around 10-15% of adults are infected with HIV. Southern Africa is the worst impacted by AIDS; in South Africa the HIV prevalence is 17.8% and in three other southern African countries, the national adult HIV prevalence rate now exceeds 20%. These countries are Botswana (24.8%), Lesotho (23.6%) and Swaziland (25.9%).3

West Africa has been less affected by HIV and AIDS, but some countries are experiencing rising HIV prevalence rates. In Cameroon HIV prevalence is now estimated at 5.3% and in Gabon it stands at 5.2%. In Nigeria, HIV prevalence is low (3.6%) compared to the rest of Africa. However, because of its large population (it is the most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa), this equates to around 3.3 million people living with HIV.4

Adult HIV prevalence in East Africa exceeds 5% in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.5

Overall, rates of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa appear to have peaked in the late 1990s, and HIV prevalence seems to have declined slightly, although it remains at an extremely high level. History of AIDS in Africa has more information about how HIV prevalence has changed over time.

*Source for opening passage in blockquote is from *here* @ NewVision.


Mr Lonely said...

nice blog... have a view of my blog when free.. .. do leave me some comment / guide if can.. if interested can follow my blog...


When HIV/Aids was first 'discovered' it was widely reported that heterosexual women would not contract HIV/Aids only homosexual men. However, feminists have long known that heterosexual practices wherein 'intercourse' is seen as the only 'real sexual act' is far more risky (health wise) for women than men. This is why STDS are predominantly passed from male to female not the reverse - but of course the reality of unsafe male sexual practices which cause much suffering to women must never be made public. Male sexual pleasure and pseudo male sex right always supercedes women's right to refuse to submit to 'intercourse/penetration.'

Instead women are exhorted to 'carry a condom and ask male partner to practice safe sex.' We must never educate or even attempt to challenge men's pseudo innate right of 'intercourse' because this continues to be viewed as 'heterosex.' It amazes me that women are the ones constantly told to carry condoms and even taught how to put on a condom when in fact condoms are for male usage never women's. So tell men to put on condoms and furthermore tell males that 'intercourse' is not their innate right, but just an option provided both partners freely agree - rather than the woman submitting because she knows the man believes his sexual pleasure supercedes her physical health.

But the main reason why so many heterosexual men demand 'intercourse' is because power continues to be held by men not women. So HIV/Aids campaigns telling women to ask their male partner to wear a condom are useless because men's power and domination over women is not being challenged - or even acknowledged.

That is why it continues to be women who are the ones contracting HIV/Aids in far greater numbers than men and it continues to be women who are the ones infected with STDs and other sexually transmitted diseases - not men.