Gender is an important cultural factor that influences the behaviors that put someone at risk for HIV infection. AIDS was originally seen as a disease of White gay men and a large portion of studies focus on this group; therefore, little is known about the psychosocial processes affecting women with the disease. Studies show that gay men infected with HIVE tend to be more economically advantaged, better educated, likely to be European American, and often have no dependents, relative to women infected with HIV. The text explains that women account for 44% of all estimated HIV infections worldwide, and the proportion of women infected is rapidly increasing all over the world. Low income women of color are especially at risk and Hispanic women are seven times more likely to get AIDS than European American women.
Women are more likely than men to be infected with HIV via heterosexual sex; male to female transmission of HIV is eight times more likely than female to male transmission. Because seminal fluids can reside within the female vagina for a long period, the chance of infection greatly increases, whereas vaginal fluids can be easily washed off the male anatomy after sex. Risk of infection also increases as research displays that it is harder for women to raise the issue of condom use than it is for men.
Race and ethnicity also influence the extent to which sexual mixing takes place, which has been found to have a central influence on HIV transmission rates. The text defines sexual mixing as the extent to which people engage in sexual activities with sexual partners from other sexual networks versus partners from their own network. Studies show that women are more likely than men to be heavy mixers and that Hispanic males and females are moiré likely than other males and females to be heavy mixers with African American males and White females reporting moderate levels of mixing. Young adult Hispanic and females report the most heavy mixing.
Along with psychosocial cultural factors that influence the behaviors that put someone at risk for HIV infection, genetic research and the ability to hone in on specific parts of genes provide new genetic insights into cultural differences in AIDS. The great ethnic discrepancies in incidence and prevalence of HIV and AIDS compel more cross-cultural research, but this has unfortunately been a slow in developing.
To Whom It May Concern:
Power and privilege greatly affect prejudice, discrimination, and inequity in infection and treatment of HIV/AIDS in several ways. HIV has no cure and is transmitted sexually, in blood and in breast milk. While a cocktail of drugs can keep patients healthy, treatment is expensive and often the virus mutates until older drugs no longer affect it. Therefore, the rich and privileged are able to live longer because they have the money and the power to obtain an expensive AIDS cocktail to keep themselves healthy. It is substantially more difficult for people of lower socioeconomic status to afford and have access to these drugs; and therefore, live much less-healthy, shorter lives. This inequity in treatment of HIV/AIDS is incredibly unfair and something should be done about the high cost of AIDS cocktails to ensure every infected person adequate, equal treatment. Just because someone may be wealthy, famous, or powerful does not mean that they deserve to live a healthier, longer life with AIDS than someone of lower socioeconomic status.
Research displays that people who live in high-risk communities, make a low income, and do not receive a good education are at a higher risk of HIV infection than are those who come from a more privileged life and have a high level of education. The majority of HIV/AIDS education and prevention is given to the latter group, who benefit the least from the knowledge. The information about the dangers of unsafe sex and HIV infection is not getting to the groups who are at high-risk to become infected. Therefore, the more powerful and the more privileged are much less likely to become infected with HIV than are those of less privilege and lower socioeconomic status.
There are obvious inequities in the infection and treatment of HIV/AIDS. AIDS has become a world pandemic and although great strides are being made in understanding the epidemiology of the disease, the number of infected people worldwide continues to grow at an alarming rate. It is clear that something must to be done to both educate and provide adequate treatment not only for the powerful and privileged, but for all mankind.