Last Updated 23 Mar 2023

Preventing AIDS

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Today many people around the world are infected with a serious disease called AIDS. Unfortunately, the disease has led to many deaths worldwide and yet it still remains untreatable. Many Public Health Departments are now taking the lead in publicizing education about AIDS. Public awareness and prevention programs are possible solutions to the spread of AIDS. The issue of this paper is on AIDS Prevention Programs that target women. One outlook is that prevention programs that target women will reduce the number of infections around the world.

People opposed to this believe that prevention programs should aim more towards males. The disease is obviously an important social issue which impacts people worldwide. Certain associations and studies believe that women are more at danger then men for contracting HIV/AIDS. They believe prevention programs should be focused merely on women. AIDS cases for women are increasing each year and women are one of the fastest growing populations being infected. At the end of 2002, UNAIDS, a Joint United Nations Progamme on HIV/AIDS, reported that 38. 6 million adults are infected with HIV or AIDS worldwide.

Roughly 50% or 19. 2 million are women. Globally speaking, most women infected with HIV or AIDS are from developing countries. The fastest spread of AIDS among women is in sub-Saharan Africa. In 1999, for the first time more women than men were infected with HIV. Out of 22. 3 million people infected in sub Saharan Africa 12. 2 million, or 55%, are female. Of the 1. 1 million youth infected in south Asia, 62% are female. According to research by the CDC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the amount of AIDS cases in women have more than tripled in the United States.

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Since 1985, 7% of women were affected to 25% in 1999. With the number of AIDS cases in women increasing, organizations are relying on prevention programs aimed towards women to be the effective solution to prevent the spread of the virus amongst men and women. In contrary to the opposing viewpoint, reports by UNAIDS felt that men should be the main focus in the prevention programs. In 2000, UNAIDS commenced a World AIDS Campaign which pushed for men to become more involved in preventing the spread of the AIDS outbreak. "We must stop seeing men as ome kind of problem and begin seeing them as part of the solution,” according to Dr Peter Piot, the head director of UNAIDS. “Working with men to change their behavior and attitudes has tremendous potential to slow down the epidemic. It will also improve the lives of men themselves, not to mention those of their families. " There are several reasons why men should remain the main target to the prevention of the epidemic. The focus is mainly on changing sexual behaviors amongst men. Men grow up with certain beliefs and attitudes on how they should behave when dealing with intercourse. Dr.

Elvira Belingon, Department of Health STD/AIDS Coordinator in Cordillera explained that worldwide studies prove that men are at a greater risk of spreading the disease because they are likely to have more unprotected intercourse and sexual partners than women do. "Too often, it is seen as 'unmanly' to worry about avoiding drug-related risks, or to bother with condoms," said Dr Piot. UNAIDS feel these cultural beliefs and expectations allow men to become vulunerable to AIDS which endangers their own health or the health of their partners and family. This vulnerability has already affected gay and bisexual men in the United States.

Sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis have rose for the second year in a row. The government feels that gays and bisexuals are more susceptible to these sexually transmitted diseases and with the help of these prevention programs they can decrease that number. In order to help control the AIDS epidemic, organization’s feel prevention programs should focus more on men’s behavior. I believe that prevention programs should be aimed towards women because of the steady increase of infections year to year. Women are more susceptible to HIV infection for several reasons.

Biologically, females are estimated to be eight times more likely of receiving and HIV transmission from a male compared to female-to-male transmission. In 1997, the CDC reported that 38% of women received HIV through heterosexual intercourse opposed to 7% of men. Women are more at risk because the surface area in a female’s genital tract is greater exposed than in males. During intercourse larger amounts of semen fluids are released than in vaginal fluids. This puts women at risk because semen contains a higher amount of HIV. Also, women often have sexually transmitted infections that are left untreated, which increases exposure to HIV.

Women who have STDs, sexually transmitted diseases, especially those that cause ulcerations make it easier for HIV to enter the body. Genital sores and immune reactions related with STDs face a greater risk of HIV infection. Treatment of STDs can be an efficient HIV prevention tactic if prevention programs educate women on this exposure. Other biological factors deal with young women among the ages of 13 to 19. Girls in Charge coordinator, Judah-Abijah Dorrington, explained that 49% of all the AIDS cases reported in the United States since 1997 were among these young women.

This age group is infected because they have not fully completed their biological development. Many of the women obtained HIV in their teens because of “having an underdeveloped cervix and low vaginal mucus production. ” In the report by AIDS Weekly, young women are found to have three to five times higher HIV infections than among boys. "Young women really are being viewed as the population with the largest number of new infections," said Dr. Cynthia Gomez, professor for the AIDS Prevention Center at the University of California at San Francisco. They don't realize they're at risk, partly because we've only emphasized certain groups, rather than behaviors. " Women are vulnerable to infection for their lack of power within sexual relationships and sexual violence. Women’s lack of power makes it difficult for them to negotiate safer sex with partners.

Women tend not to discuss condom use within relationships in fear of rejection or loss of economic support. When women are in committed relationships, they mainly focus on the intimacy in their relationship. They assume they are in a monogamous relationship with their partner. Unsafe sex becomes more important than protection against HIV. This dependence of men increases the risk of AIDS for women. A report from Secretary General of the United Nation, Kofi Annan concluded, "The gender dynamics of the epidemic are far-reaching due to women's weaker ability to negotiate safe sex, and their generally lower social and economic status. " Studies in Africa have uncovered that many married women have been infected by their husband. The powerlessness of women to reject sex with their husband has been a major cause of transmission to women.

Women's dependence on men makes women less able to protect themselves against AIDS. Typically, men make most decisions about when, where, and how to have sex. In developing countries, women usually maintain little control over their bodies and hold little decision-making power. Violence against women increases their helplessness to HIV and decreases their ability to defend themselves against infection. According to a study, “physical and sexual abuse were ‘disturbingly common’ throughout life among women at high risk for HIV infection…women who have been abused are more likely to use crack cocaine and have multiple sex partners. This puts women are at greater risk for rape or sexual force. Also, some women are forced to enter into sex work or short-term partnerships to exchange sex for economic gain or survival including food, refuge, and security. In many cases, women are in danger merely because they are reliant on their husbands for survival and support.

This hinders and restricts their decision making and negotiating control. Sex workers are at a high risk for infection, mainly when they do not have the ability to negotiate with customers who refuse to wear a condom. In order to prevent the spread of AIDS I feel public health agencies need to raise public awareness by promoting prevention programs for women. If women are educated on the biological and social factors of AIDS, women may have more of a chance to change their behaviors before the possibility of becoming infected with HIV. Programs that specifically target women will have a positive impact on women in the long-run. As new AIDS cases are increasing quickly through heterosexual contact focus on the prevention programs will take on even greater importance.

People that agree with the statement that AIDS prevention programs should target women believe that women are vulnerable to HIV infection biologically and socially. To decrease infections of the AIDS virus women change their standard of living especially for women in developing countries through these prevention programs. Those that disagree focus HIV prevention efforts on heterosexual male sexual behavior. By changing male cultural and socialization patterns interventions can be effective. A widespread HIV prevention policy uses many essentials to protect as many people at risk for HIV as possible.

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