Male-Dominated Cultures May Put Women More At Risk for HIV/AIDS in Africa

Women participating in the 12th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Africa declared that cultural attitudes assuming male domination over women and a lack of women’s rights contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS among African women. Of the 28.1 million people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, 55 percent are women, according to conference participants. Marie-Louise Ndala Musuamba, president of the Kinshasa Court of Appeal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, cited rape, polygamy, and lack of educational and economic opportunities for women as factors leading to the higher percentage of women infected with the virus. Musuamaba also noted cultural myths surrounding HIV/AIDS, specifically the myth that having sex with a virgin can cure men with AIDS. Earlier this month South Africans in Johannesburg demonstrated against the surge in rapes of children in that country. Many victim support groups and anti-rape organizations point to the belief that having sex with virgins cures AIDS as one of the reasons behind the increase in child rape.


UN Wire, 12/13/01; Reuters, 12/6/01

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