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Soc Sci Med. 2002 Feb;54(3):325-37.

HIV risk environment for Ghanaian women: challenges to prevention.

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  • 1Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


Ghana is experiencing high rates of HIV transmission and women have been identified as a group with increased vulnerability to infection. Women's vulnerability may be influenced by factors such as gender, unequal power relationships and poverty. Research was undertaken in Ghana from January to May 1999 to examine the experiences of HIV sero-positive women. Thirty-one women were interviewed to explore the broad context of disease transmission and to identify factors that mediated women's ability to protect themselves from infection. The poverty experienced by many of the women during their childhood years, coupled with a societal belief that favored the education of males, restricted the participants' educational and vocational opportunities. With limited education and few vocational skills, many of the women took boyfriends to assist them with the purchase of food, clothing and shelter, as a strategy for survival. For most women, the use of condoms with sexual partners was restricted by the high value placed on fertility, the negative association of condoms with prostitution, and the women's limited ability to influence decision-making in this area. The women's narratives provide a compelling description of the context of HIV transmission in Ghana. Strategies to expand and intensify the response to HIV prevention are presented and critiqued.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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