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Women and HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa

Gita Ramjee12* and Brodie Daniels1

Author Affiliations

1 HIV Prevention Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, 123 Jan Hofmeyr Road, Westville, Durban 3629, South Africa

2 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines, Keppel Street, London WC1E, 7HT, UK

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AIDS Research and Therapy 2013, 10:30  doi:10.1186/1742-6405-10-30

Published: 13 December 2013


Thirty years since the discovery of HIV, the HIV pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than two thirds of the world’s HIV infections. Southern Africa remains the region most severely affected by the epidemic. Women continue to bear the brunt of the epidemic with young women infected almost ten years earlier compared to their male counterparts. Epidemiological evidence suggests unacceptably high HIV prevalence and incidence rates among women. A multitude of factors increase women’s vulnerability to HIV acquisition, including, biological, behavioral, socioeconomic, cultural and structural risks. There is no magic bullet and behavior alone is unlikely to change the course of the epidemic. Considerable progress has been made in biomedical, behavioral and structural strategies for HIV prevention with attendant challenges of developing appropriate HIV prevention packages which take into consideration the socioeconomic and cultural context of women in society at large.

HIV incidence; Sub-Saharan Africa; Adherence; Prevention