Hesperian Health Guides
Why HIV and AIDS Are Different for Women
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In this chapter:
HIV and AIDS are different for women because:
- women get infected with HIV more easily than men do because during sex, she is the ‘receiver’. This means a man’s semen stays in the woman’s vagina for a long time. And if there is HIV in the semen, there is more chance for it to pass into a woman’s blood through her vagina or cervix, especially if there are any cuts, sores, or STIs.
- women are often infected at a younger age than men. This is because young women and girls are less able to refuse unwanted or unsafe sex and are often married young to older men who have had more chances to be infected.
- women often live with untreated STIs. These make it easier to become infected with HIV.
- women get more blood transfusions than men because of problems during childbirth.
- poor nutrition and weakness from childbearing too often make women less able to fight disease.
- women are blamed unfairly for the spread of AIDS, even though many men are unwilling to wear condoms or limit their number of sex partners.
- a pregnant woman infected with HIV can pass it to her baby.
- women are usually the caretakers for family members who are sick with AIDS, even if they are sick themselves.