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Health Care Women Int. 2002 Feb;23(2):163-72.

Social factors that make South African women vulnerable to HIV infection.

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Department of Sociology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.


The degree to which women are able to control various aspects of their sexual lives is clearly a critical question for health promotion and the prevention of AIDS. It is evident that social factors such as the high rate of rape, the unfavourable economic position of women, and the inability to insist on condom usage make South African women unable to negotiate the timing of sex and the conditions under which it occurs. They are thus rendered powerless to protect themselves against HIV infection. Prevention campaigns often do not take into account the reality of the daily lives of South African women and the difficulties they face gaining control over their own sexual lives. The rampant spread of this disease can only be stemmed if the subordinate position of women is acknowledged and addressed.

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